In a perfect universe, Leonidez Avenido is a follower of this blog page. He will have noticed from the last blog post that he was mentioned only once merely as “The Other Star”. He would have felt offended and fired up that this blogger should know more about him, more than worthy of just one single forgettable mention. In a perfect universe, that would be the explanation why Leo Avenido exploded for 24 points, including 6 three-point shots, against the Laskar Dreya South Sumatra team.
Of course, this is not a perfect universe. Leo Avenido probably doesn’t know this blog exists and the only reason he exploded for 24 points is because that is what he’s capable of. Not because some unknown random blogger put him as an afterthought. He probably wasn’t working out 24/7 ever since the last blog was posted trying to prove a point to a random guy like me.
The thing is, if you really watched the first game, you would have known Leo had a game like this coming. In the game against the Indonesia Warriors, Avenido got open and had his chances, but he just didn’t convert them into points as much as he (and Saigon Heat fans) would have wanted to. Coming into this game, nothing changed except for the fact that instead of clanking off the rim, his shots were falling through the net. And fall through the net they did.
I remember watching a Golden State Warrior game where Stephen Curry could not seem to miss. The feeling in that game was that every time Curry got the ball and was in shooting position, you were automatically obliged to sit on the edge of your seat and hold your breath. In a way, the show Avenido put up was very similar. Once Avenido heated up, the crowd grew a bit more quiet once he got the ball. Once Avenido let loose another long three, the crowd grew silent for a second anticipating the outcome. A miss would result in a disappointed sigh, whereas a made shot would result in a loud cheer and exchanged high fives throughout the stands. That’s what a star does, he unites the crowd with his play. And Leo Avenido is definitely a star.
I got to witness this Saigon Heat team and crowd live for the first time and it will definitely not be my last. One reason being that I bought season tickets, so it would be kind of a waste of money to not go again. The second reason is that the entire experience was incredible.
The venue (Canadian International School) might have been a bit far from my residence, but that’s mainly because I live far away from modern civilization. I came to the venue 3 hours before game time to scout the area. The dance team were practicing their moves and the rest of the organizers were doing their jobs, setting up whatever they were responsible for.
Being able to see this, you are able to appreciate and get a better feel of the organizer’s effort to make this event as entertaining for us fans as possible.
One interesting marketing tactic was access to free wifi, merely by submitting your Facebook like or your email address. Its always good to be up to date with the trend of your fan base and respond to that.
About a half an hour before game time, spectators that were in the arena were sent out of the arena to the tailgate area.
While the organizers were putting on the finishing touches on their duties, the fans were not left to be idle. Team sponsors and affiliates had booths set up to promote themselves leading to a wide selection of entertainment for the fans that had arrived early.
Of course, there had to be a booth to promote the teams merchandise. The Saigon Heat jerseys were available in the home white and away red at 450,000 VND per uniform. Considering the quality of the material and the aesthetic qualities, that is more than a reasonable price.
The Saigon Sports Academy set up a basketball hoop and entertained the youth with various games such as pitting them up against each other in lay up drills. I would have been more than glad to beat up a 10 year old kid by being longer, taller, more physically mature, and less emotionally mature. However, I was stuck on the next booth…
HOT DOGS, GET YOUR HOT DOGS! I am a big fan of hotdogs at professional sports events and the fact that they have fresh hot dogs being sold AND beer just made me so happy. After a while, the crowd started to move into the arena for the game.
During the game, the PA Announcer constantly led the crowd into “Defense” and their official fan motto “I am Saigon Heat” chants, which would always keep them into the game. During the breaks, the organizers would have their events and games ready to keep the fans busy. The fans were great and you could really feel that they loved these players.
In conclusion, I am very impressed by the way this organization is run and how they are able to attract new fans and maintain the old fans altogether.
Tran “The Man” Man Phan
Talking about being impressed, in this game Man displayed a bit of his potential skills and roles.
You can see that Man is quite skilled at penetrating to the hoop, being able to get inside or draw the foul. Of course, he will have to be more accurate with the finish, but that can be solved later on.
However, Man is very left dominant, and it seems Laskar Dreya picked that up early. On multiple plays, the Laskar defense forced him to his right by giving him an open lane, but instead of at least creating some space and making a move the right, Man would stubbornly hold his ground until he found a passing target or a hole to penetrate through.
With this being his first taste of professional basketball though, what we have seen looks quite promising.
“Point Guard” David Viet Arnold
I’m guessing Coach Jason Rabedeux decided to tinkle with the idea of “Point Guard” David Viet Arnold. David is a good ball handler in his own rights, but he is still operating on his instincts as a shooter which might have lead to his 7 turnovers. It might not be fair for David, as the comparison for him is star Froilan Baguion, but the team does seem to lose a bit of offensive fluidity when David is the lead guard.
Note: I know he was actually calling for a “jump ball”, but I like to read lips however I want them to be.
If Coach Rabedeaux is going to be serious about David as a point guard, he will need to give David some more time to get comfortable with this role and Coach Rab is in the right direction with pushing David in to this situation early in the season. By the way, David has good instincts on when to apply a spin move to get into the weak side of the defense.
Box in, Box Out
The Saigon Heat enjoyed a +8 rebound margin (42 to 34) but if you look at the numbers, it is pretty reasonable as Leskar Dreya missed a whopping 55 shots (20 of 75, “good” for 27%). Defensive rebounds are easier to grab, so with that many Leskar Dreya missed shots flying around, it’s no wonder the Heat got so many of them. What we have to focus on are the offensive rebounds Leskar Dreya got. The Indonesian squad grabbed a total of 12 offensive boards. This means that they got 12 more chances to take a shot. Imagine Leskar Dreya hitting 50% of those missed shots, resulting in a total of at least 12 more points and suddenly, you have a more closer game. Saigon Heat were caught focusing on the shot ball on defense for some moments, instead of focusing on who they should box out. Sometimes, Justin and Dustin rely completely on their length and athleticism which could lead to the opposing side to grab lucky rebounds.
Saigon will need to improve on that in the upcoming games, if they want to continue to enjoy these comfortable wins.
Congratulations to Ngoc Thanh Nguyen and the aforemention Tram “The Man” Man Phan, for being the first two locals to score. Ngoc Thanh Nguyen scored his first point on a free throw, sending the crowd to a resounding cheer.
Because of the wide lead, Coach Rabedeaux was able to field his all local team for a longer period at the end of the game for a total of nearly two minutes. Though they didn’t score, if the early season games continues to be blowouts, the confidence they get from these end game minutes might prove to be crucial once the Heat might need one of them to step up later in the season.
The Magic Continues
Baguion continues to dazzle almost every time he touches the ball.
Watching him live this match reminded me of Rajon Rondo with all the herky jerky moves and headfakes that even faked out his teammates from time to time.
Throw it down!
This game featured quite some quality dunks:
The most memorable dunk-involved for me was the Falando Jones steal-and-lay-up. He got booed by the crowd for several seconds for not throwing it down.
Gotta love the fans here.
Justin Williams, Candid Superstar
Can someone put a camera on Justin Williams for the entire game? Please?
Justin Williams, ladies and gentlemen. Denying shots and High Fives since 2014.
The next game will be a rematch against the Laska Dreya South Sumatra played in Senayan Gym Hall 1, Indonesia at 17.30 Local time this Friday 1/8/14. Be sure to check the ABL Youtube channel for the live stream if you are not in the area.
Good night and see you next time.
Added Note: Big thanks to the Saigon Heat for featuring my blog on their website and completely translating it to Vietnamese for me. I look forward to continue to cover the Saigon Heat in the future!