Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — HCM City Wings came from behind to book a berth in the finals of the Việt Nam Basketball Association (VBA) League, beating Hanoi Buffaloes 74-71 yesterday in HCM City.
The Wings were a treat to watch in the last few seconds of the third semi-final. With this win, they have made it to the final of the first ever professional league of Việt Nam.
A third game was needed after the teams tied 1-1 in their official two-leg semi-finals.
The Buffaloes were supposed to have an advantage as they have invariably won in the past when playing at the Wings’ home field - the Hồ Xuân Hương Gymnasium.
They won 84-64 in the first match on October 30 before the Wings beat them 77-66 in the second match four days later.
The visitors yesterday came into the match confidently and proved their worth early in the game. They dominated in all indexes - points, assists and rebounds - against the hosts who were, according to coach Mika Turunen, exhausted after their previous win.
In the first five minutes, the Buffaloes scored 11 points while the hosts managed a mere two.
The visitors continued to dominate until the end of the first set at 22-11 as well as in the second.
The Buffaloes’ effective attacks and the precise throws by Ryan Arnol and Phú Hoàng brought them many points while the Wings’ faults also added several.
While their defenders worked poorly, their attackers including Jaywuan Hill and Justin Young could not find much room to score.
It was 35-28 for the capital’s representatives.
The Buffaloes, known for their defensive style of playing, showed their strong tactics in the third set, putting up a formidable wall to thwart the hosts’ attempts to breach through. The Wing’s best scorer, Hill, could hardly find his way to land the ball in the Buffaloes’ basket.
A nine-point gap seemed fairly reassuring for the visitors after the third set ended 57-48.
However, the Wings defied all such estimations in the decisive fourth set. Ngô Tuấn Trung’s incredible three-point throw 10 minutes from the game became the turning point of the match.
Justin Young continued with his two-point throws and levelled the score 60-60, bringing the house down as cheering fans rose in unison, happy at the turn of events.
Both sides claimed point after point until the last 14 seconds.
Nguyễn Tiến Dương was successful with his two throws, making it 62-60.
However, the Wings did not let things go out of hand for long and also pocketed points from free throws along with counter-attacks, making it 66-63.
The score was again tied at 69-69 when the Wings’ Justin Young failed in his attempts while an injured Tuấn Trung had to be tended to by doctors.
With 40 seconds left, the scoreboard read 71-71.
This was just the moment for Triệu Hán Minh to shine on the court with a three-point throw to finalise 74-71. The Buffaloes did not find the remaining 20 seconds enough to come back into the game.
Hill was the most valuable player with 34 points and 13 rebounds. His captain, Nguyễn Huỳnh Hải, scored 16 while Young made eight.
The Wings will play the final’s first leg match against Danang Dragons on November 11. — VNS