Joshua Keyes (14) with 20 points and 21 rebounds helped Saigon Heat lead 2-1 in the VBA Finals series. Photo courtesy of VBA
HCM CITY— Saigon Heat defeated Thăng Long Warriors in the third game of the 2020 VBA Finals series on Sunday with the score 65-53.
Game three of the finals series took place after both teams had an earlier victory. While Saigon Heat won in their opening match, Thăng Long equalized in the next match on December 4 with a close score of 74-70.
Winning this key match was important for both teams, so they entered the match with high determination.
Thăng Long made few changes for their starting five players. Point guard Trương Hoàng Chung replaced Nguyễn Thành Đạt at the beginning of the match. It looked as if coach Predrag Lukic of the Warriors wanted to control the tempo of the match at the beginning.
However, the Warriors only scored 11 points, while letting the Saigon Heat get 15 points in the first quarter.
Entering the second quarter, Robert Crawford of the Warriors scored important points, helping the Warriors take a 24-19 lead after the first five minutes of the quarter.
However, they choked in the rest five minutes of the quarter when they let Saigon Heat take back the lead 24-29 before entering the break.
The biggest achievement of the Warriors in the first half was not letting Saigon Heat's point guard Christian Juzang have any points.
Heat took a big lead in the third quarter thanks to the mid-range shots of Nguyễn Huỳnh Phú Vinh. The score was 30-48 for Saigon Heat with only three minutes left in the third quarter.
But once again Đặng Thái Hưng of Warriors came to rescue the team as he did in the first two matches. The third quarter ended with the score 37-48 for the Saigon Heat.
Hưng again showed the accuracy of his shots when he scored four points at the beginning of the last quarter.
Phú Vinh and Joshua Keyes of Saigon Heat helped the team bounce back with accurate mid-range shots. The Heat widened the gap 41-54 with five minutes left in the match.
Coach Predrag Lukic had to call a timeout to help his players regain confidence.This helped the Warriors close the gap to 47-56.
However, Christian Juzang's 3-point clutch shot with only slightly more than one minute left in the match broke down the mentality of the Warriors.
Despite Hoàng Thế Hiển and Robert Crawford having three-point shots after that, it was too late.
Saigon Heat closed the match on the free-throw line with the score 53-65. Joshua Keyes won the Player of the Game with amazing stats of 20 points, 21 rebounds.
With this win, Saigon Heat is only one more victory away from the 2020 VBA championship. If they win the next match tomorrow night, the team will become the first team to successfully defend the championship.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have more things to do if they want to win the championship this year. VNS