ABL Recap: Fire and Blood

This type of game had been due for quite sometime. We’ve been treated with teams overcoming furious rallies, straight up blow outs and defensive dog fights. Even though in the end, it’s all basketball and any type of game is entertaining for me, what we’ve been waiting for is a battle to the buzzer that couldn’t be decided in 40 minutes of regulation. What we needed was an overtime game.

Saigon Heat and Westports Malaysia Dragons made sure we got that.

9/8/14 Westports Malaysia Dragons 102 – Saigon Heat 98 (OVERTIME)

The Dragons came into CIS Arena without much glitz and glamour. Sure they had had three straight wins coming in, but two were against two unprepared teams (Laska Dreya South Sumatra and Indonesia Warriors) struggling to find their identity and one was against a Singapore Slingers team that just couldn’t make a shot that day.

The Saigon heat were coming off a cooling down period after running through most of their competition for the first 3 games before running in to one of the toughest weeks any team will have to play this season. An away game at Singapore on Sunday, an away game at Bangkok on Wednesday, and finally capping that off with a home game against a surging Malaysia Dragons Team.

It turns out that these two would engage in what would be a battle for the ages.

The Dragons came out hard and fast and the lead went up to 11 at the end of the first quarter with a 3 point buzzer beater from newly acquired, Avery Scharer.

Scharer had something to say and that would continue to be a trend in this game.

The Dragons would maintain their comfortable lead up until the 4th quarter, where Leo Avenido started a series of big shots to bring them within striking distance.

Now let’s take a look at the game flow chart for this game. You’ll see the graph going crazy during the last two minutes .

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The last two minutes consisted of Eversley taking a rushed three pointer, the Heat finally getting the lead for the first time in this game of a defensive mistake, Scharer missing two big free throws, the Heat extending that lead to 5 with 35 seconds left off a Three point play, Eversley missing another rushed three point shot, Baguion misses two big free throws, Eversley makes a rushed three point shot, Avenido makes two big free throws and that sets the stage for possibly the biggest shot of any game of this young season. If you found that running sentence confusing, go watch the whole thing and it still wouldn’t make any sense.

Anyhow, the stage was set and who better to take this shot than Avery Scharer. Again.

Thaat was so crazy, even Paul George couldn’t believe it.

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and neither could these two fans.

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Haters Gonna Hate

In overtime, it would be Chris Eversley doing his best impersonation of LeBron James to take over the game by making easy drives to the hoop by just overpowering everyone. While we are making NBA comparisons to ABL players, it took me only a couple of plays to draw comparisons between Avery Scharer and 2013 Dwyane Wade.

1. Second Fiddle: Both Scharer and Wade played alongside one of the most dominant physical specimen in their respective leagues. Undoubtedly, Scharer has the skills to take a lot of offensive load, as Wade, but when you have someone like James or Eversley to play with it makes the game much more easier.

2. Penetration: Scharer and Wade both enjoy driving towards the hoop to draw the foul or hit the kick out pass and they do it well.

3. Drawing the Whistle: I don’t want to call it flopping, because the word comes out always too negatively. Maybe this is a bit unfair as we only get one instance of Scharer running up the court and trying to draw a whistle twice in the same play.

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Dwyane Wade has a couple of his own incidents. Most recently this gem from this year NBA Finals.

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4. Bring on the Haters: I am usually a logical person. If I bring somethin up in this blog, I will try to support that fact up with some evidence in some form. But here I am unable to explain the frustration in my head when I see Wade or Scharer’s face.

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There is a weird feeling of cockiness oozing from them, that I can’t explain.

Huh, maybe it’s just me.

Meanwhile, with Eversley as LeBron and Scharer as Wade, Justin Knox has mastered the Dancing Skills that resemble Chris Bosh.

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Emotivation

Leo Avenido is an interesting player. He can fade out of games from time to time, but when he does make his presence felt, step out of the way.
As mentioned above, Leo was the guy who started the 4th quarter run the tied the game up as seen here and another big shot:

But what I really liked about Leo and the Heat in this game was the way they reacted after a slight tussle between him an Justin Knox clobbered Leo with an elbow to the chin during a pin screen.

The Heat came out of the break and got Leo open for a three. He missed the shot, but the way that he shot the ball expressed a sort of “Take a look at this” kind of shot. The Heat got the offensive rebound and rotated the ball to Dustin Scott who turned around in the post and could have went for a layup but instead went full steam for a dunk that might have been a bit too far out.

These two attempts missed out on scoring a basket, but the message they sent out was clear.

“We are not going to take this and lie down.”

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

I enjoyed watching Tong Wen Keong play defense in this game. The young point guard was all over Froilan Baguion’s face. Baguion was held to only 2 points and was forced 7 turnovers in total in this game and while it’d been unfair to the other Dragonforce who defended Baguion, you have to really admire this up and coming players defensive awareness and movement.

If you can’t stand the Heat, Get out of The Oven.

CIS Arena is probably the most difficult place to play for visiting teams. There is probably less capacity than most of the other ABL venues, but the team finds a way to sell tickets and fill the stands up. CIS is not very tall or wide, and the sounds just seem to pack inside, making it very loud. When I was at the game against Laskar Dreya, it was loud enough already. I can’t imagine how loud it must have been during the peaks of this game.

Finally, being a small Arena, the proximity between the players and the stands are very limited. And the Heat uses that to their advantages very cleverly.

The seats behind the home team seems to be reserved for the more peaceful fans: Family, loners, or friends catching a good time together. The seats behind the away team however, seems to be reserved for the more diehard Saigon Heat fans. These guys are usually foreigners who know a thing or two about trash talking. And boy do they do a lot of trash talking.

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It doesn’t end on the bench side either, if the ball goes out of bounds and the opposing team gets to inbound the sideline ball, prepare to get an earful.

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I admire this dedication and fandom, and it’s a colorful spice that adds taste to the ABL, but it should be kept under control.

Here it seems to be kept under some control:

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But we have to be careful, because a league in it’s infancy stages like the ABL cannot risk an incident like the Malice at the Palace or the Marcus Smart Fiasco.

That said, CIS is definitely one of the best venues for home court advantages and let’s hope it stays that way.

By the way, I propose to call the CIS Arena “The Oven”.
Because “If you can’t stand The Heat, get out of the Oven.”

Stay Classy Heat Fans.

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Comment your displeasure at the corny arena nickname below if you must, but make sure to be available for the Westports Malaysia Dragons next game on 15 August 2014 at 8PM Local time, where the Dragons will be hosting a crosstown rivalry against the Singapore Slingers at MABA Stadium Malaysia.
The Heat’s next game is on 16 August 2014 at 4PM Local time. The Heat will be playing the Indonesia Warriors at BritAma Arena Indonesia.

If you aren’t available to attend the games live, be sure to check you television providers for and live games or watch the live feed at http://www.aseanbasketball.com or http://www.youtube.com/ABL

Before we say good bye, let’s check out with the reactions of the Westports Malaysia Dragons after the win:

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