Heat move closer to fourth VBA championship with second finals victory

September 22, 2023 - 18:41
Poor shooting caused coach Predrag Lukic and his team to fall behind the guest.


One step closer to the VBA championship for the Saigon Heat. Photo courtesy of VBA 

NHA TRANG — With a second victory against the Nha Trang Dolphins by a score 77-72 in the VBA 2023 Finals best-of-five series, defending champion Saigon Heat inched closer to its fourth championship in the row.

The second game was held on Thursday (September 21) at Nha Trang University Arena, Nha Trang City.

Just like in Game 1, the Dolphins took the early lead thanks to their control of the painted area.

However, after just a few minutes, Kentrell Barkley of the Heat gradually found a way to break the home team's defence and helped the guest take back the lead (18-14) after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Dolphins could not break the strong defence of the Heat.

The host had to play outside the three-point line. However, their shooters did not have good form and they missed most of their three-pointers in the second quarter.

Poor shooting caused coach Predrag Lukic and his team to fall behind the guest.

The Heat's shooters, meanwhile, had a better performance.

After Lê Quang's three-point play in the seventh minute of the second quarter, the guest created a double-digit lead for the first time, 32-22.

In the remaining time of the second quarter, the Heat took advantage of many turnovers of the Dolphins and the defending champion increased the lead to 17 points at 39-22 before the break.

After the break, Võ Kim Bản and Nguyễn Huỳnh Phú Vinh once again helped the Heat to dominate the opponent and create a 20-point lead.

With five minutes to go in the quarter, Dominique Tham of the Dolphins had to leave the court due to injury.

However, top scorer Robert Sampson had a poor performance so Tham had to come back on the court.

Tham quickly helped the host reduce the deficit to 59-43 before the final quarter.

In the final quarter, Robert Sampson was on the bench. Rookie Hứa Kỳ Anh surprisingly played his best game while Dominique Tham was forced to work hard at both ends of the court to keep the hopes of the home team.

Tham made his first three-point shot of the match which helped the Dolphins narrow the gap to 10 points, 61-51.

Point guard Madarious Gibbs made a counterattack after a turnover from the Heat to bring the score to a one possession game at 67-65 

However, that was the best they could do. The Saigon Heat quickly gained a safe lead of 75-68 thanks to Phú Vinh and Kim Bản's clutch shots.

With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, the home team had to commit fouls to get the ball back.

However, Kentrell Barkley shut the last hope for the host and sealed the 77-72 victory for the Heat by making his free throws.

Player of the Game Barkley had another double-double in the Finals with 30 points and 11 rebounds. 
After this match, the defending champion Saigon Heat is only one victory away from their fourth consecutive championship.

As for the Nha Trang Dolphins, coach Predrag Lukic and his team needs to quickly recover if they do not want to be swept in their first appearance in the VBA finals. — VNS