Saigon Heat win first Playoff match, confident to defend title

September 08, 2023 - 16:17
Playing on home turf and a win over the Heat in their latest meet were strong pushes for the Warriors in their first ever semi-final game.


Kentrell Barkley (No 24) became the first VBA player to score a triple-double in the Playoff round in Saigon Heat's 89-79 win over Thanglong Warriors on September 7 in Hà Nội. Photos of VBA

HÀ NỘI — Defending champion Saigon Heat bounced back to beat Thanglong Warrior 89-79 in the first match of the 2023 VBA Playoffs on September 7 at Hà Nội's Tây Hồ Gymnasium.

Playing on home turf and a win over the Heat in their latest meet were strong pushes for the Warriors in their first ever semi-final game.

The national first pro basketball team, which topped the ranking after the Regular Season, also saw the comeback of their best local player Võ Kim Bản and foreign player Tim Waale after injuries.

Both sides played aggressively in the first quarter but players were tense and nervous due to the best-of-three format of this round. It led to many inaccurate shots of both sides. After seven minutes, it was 12-19 for the hosts which ended with the first three-pointer by Trương Hoàng Trung.

The Warriors led 20-18.

In the second quarter, the host shooters created heavy pressure on the visiting side. Hot-hand Sameen Swint made his supporters cheer with his superb shots from all positions on the court.

At the 6.30 minute, it was 38-30 for the Warriors which kept attacking hard against the Heat.

However, Swint was exhausted and left the court minutes later, giving chance to the Heat to rise up.  

Kentrell Barkley and his teammates scored 10 points while the Warriors, without the key scorer, could make only five. The Heat successfully narrowed 42-41 before the interval. 


Sameen Swint was outstanding with 31 points but it is not enough to help the Warriors win. 

Back to the court after a 10-minute rest, Bản pushed the Heat to take the lead at 44-42 for the first time with a perfect three-pointer.

Kentrell Barkley and Bản seemed to warm up enough. Their attempts were successful in extending the gap between the two sides.

In the eighth minute, it was 60-49 for the Heat who were strong in defence and attack. The third quarter ended at 62-53. 

Swint was back in action in the last quarter. He played a key role in helping the Warriors narrow the gap at 77-80 with just two minutes left.

Bản hit another three-pointer while Barkley scored in all of his attempts, wrapping up 89-79.

The Heat came back home to prepare for the two teams' second meet on September 11 at the CIS Gymnasium.

Barkley took the Player of the Game award with a remarkable 35 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. He made history as the first ever VBA player taking a triple-double in the Playoffs round.

“The difference between the group stage and this playoffs is that this is where the best teams compete," said Barkley.

"In this round, anything can happen. With this win, we are confident that we will achieve what we want when we return home in the next match.” VNS