An Enforcer, in Hockey terms, is a player who is known for physical plays and fighting. Although it is a term that is more commonly used in Hockey, it has found it’s way across to other sports as well and basketball is not an exception.
Not every team needs an Enforcer. You can pretty much go through and actually succeed without having one. But it sure is handy to have one on hand when the opportunity rises.
Final Score: Hitech Bangkok City 88 – Saigon Heat 71
Hitech started this game out with a bang. It would only take 4 minutes for Freddie Goldstein to recover from his horrendous 0-8 three point shooting at San Juan Arena.
And because this is Freddie Goldstein, he had to do it in style. In the span of 2 minutes, Freddie Goldstein put his finger on the trigger and didn’t let go. He would pull up 4 three-point shots while making 3 of them to spark a 12 point lead that would hold off until the end of the first quarter.
Saigon Heat came out into the second quarter with a fire in their play, especially Moses Morgan. He was aggressive getting to the rim (his strong suit) and he would finish the game going to the line 11 times making 9 free throws out of those trips. He was the catalyst in the 19-6 run that would put the Heat in the lead for only the second time in the game after their first basket. Moses Morgan was starting to get into his groove after the big three point play and three point shot that put Saigon in the lead.
Of course, there was the Nakorn Jaisanook instant reply 3 pointer that might have cooled Saigon off a little bit, but what I feel was the ultimate game stopper for all of the Heat’s momentum was the introduction of Hitech Bangkok City’s goon.
Say Hello to Piyapong Piroon.
Piroon was a huge difference in the Mono Vampire game with his three point shooting and he was a difference in this game as well, but for a whole different reason.
After getting caught in a tangle with Moses Morgan after an offensive rebound and just decided to throw Morgan out of the court afterwards. Never the one to back down, Morgan would get up and direct himself to say something to Piroon (probably not anything nice). The sense of being a veteran kicked in and Piroon went flying once Moses Morgan get one to many steps too close.
Morgan and the Saigon Heat were visibly frustrated from there on out and bit by bit they let the lead get out of their reach.
It was interesting to see that the players involved in later scuffles (yes, there were plenty of them) were Saigon Heat’s import Will Creekmore and Hitech Bangkok City’s locals, Piroon and Sukdave Ghogar. Whether that was a veteran move to get the lesser involved players to get into the heads of the opposing teams’ main players or if it was just catching Piroon on a bad mood, it turned out to be efficient enough for Hitech to get the win.
I’m not saying I would encourage this to happen in a basketball game (as a matter of fact, I am pretty much against it knowing that it would annoy the hell out of me as well if I were playing), but this is a tactic of the game and it will be up to the refs and league committees to look into it to further improve the level of play.
Coach Tony Garbelotto, who has always been an emotionally animated coach, finally gave in to all of the frustration and was ejected after drawing two continuous technical fouls in the fourth quarter.
If the Heat had at least a glimmer of a hope at making a comeback before that point, it was now completely gone with their coach now stalking the game from in front of the restroom area.
Hitech would close the game out easily with an 88-71 point win.
The final score of this game doesn’t quite reflect the fact that Hitech once again sneaked away with a win like in their game against the Slingers and the Vampires. The Saigon Heat showed that they were capable of hanging with Hitech for a brief while before Hitech showed their poise and veteranship to break away.
Let’s say Saigon had a steady point guard to run the show and keep Daniel, Morgan, and Creekmore’s head in their places and I think Hitech would have not gotten away that easily. David Arnold is doing a hell of a job as an adhoc point guard, but you can see that he is still struggling between roles. He started off the game as a scorer with 6 points in the first quarter and ended the game out pretty flat when the team needed him to distribute the ball.
Long story short, Saigon Heat really needs you know Stefan Nguyen.
Hitech get yet another quality win that displays their all around versatility. The Imports still dominated most of the game, but we saw guys like Nakorn Jaisanook (11 points, 3 three-point shots) and Wuttipong Dasom continue to step up as local support. With this win over Saigon, their only test left are arch-nemesis, KL Dragons. The two top team in the standings will be playing their first match in about 3 weeks time.
What I liked and didn’t like
As mentioned above, this game was all about getting into the opposing teams head with physicality. Apart from the Piroon-Morgan incident, Piroon also “collided” with Will Creekmore for a couple of times. In one particular scene, you can audibly hear Creekmore say “He punched me in the face!”.
Again, I don’t know if Piroon knew Creekmore is an easily frustrated person (as seen that he was continuous frustrated from the lack of calls the entire night) or if he was just in the mood today, but Piroon got into Creekmore’s head and it only got worse when Sukdave Ghogar got into his face later on.
You could sense that Creekmore red shaded facial tone was not only a product of exhaustion but also of frustration. Piroon got lucky that the refs didn’t pick up any of the things he did (and neither did the oblivious commentators) and I myself was only able to pick this up when I watched the game tape, but you can be certain that the refs might have an eye on him in future games.
The Saigon Heat also had a few incidents themselves that could have brought Hitech out of their comfort zone when Tuan Trung Ngo dangerously collided with Nakorn Jaisanook and Freddie Goldstein on breakaway situations in coincidentally almost the same spots on the floor.
Again, we cannot determine the true intentions of the player, but it was a dangerous defensive attempt and I would have possibly have gotten to my head as well if I was playing the game.
- Lenny “I-WISH-WE-HAD-BETTER-LIVE-STREAM” Daniels
Lenny Daniel should be the ultimate reason why the ABL should do the best in their power to fix whatever problems they are having with their live stream. He is guaranteed to have at least one highlight play in any game that would contend for the top 5 plays of the year.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the top 5 plays of the year ended up being all highlights of Lenny Daniel either. And I wouldn’t even be mad.
Daniel reminds me of Dwyane Wade. For all of the otherworldly athleticism that he possesses and displays, you fear for life every time you see him on the court. Daniel toned it down a bit in this game early on when he settled and made mid range jumper, but once the pace picked up, Daniel started going towards the basket more ferociously. While that is exactly what he should be doing, you can’t help by feel a bit uneasy when you see him sprawling on the floor.
- Two Sides of a Gold(stein) Coin
Freddie Goldstein is known for being a scorer with his pull up threes, crossovers, and acrobatic layups.
But one aspect of his game that might still be a bit underrated is his court vision. His 2.4 Assist/Turnover ratio puts him at 2nd in the ABL and his assists per game and assist ratio is somewhere up the top as well. He might have reputation as a gunner, but he still drops dime.
Like this one.
- Where’s the call, ref?
I get the frustration that the Saigon Heat went through in this game. I actually wrote about it happening to the Mono Vampires a couple of games ago. And I’m going to say the same thing again: You can’t let it get to your head. The body language that Daniel and Creekmore showed later in the game screamed of frustration and it effected their game. Daniel went from shooting 7/10 in the first half to only 3/11 in the second half. Creekmore shot 3/14 for the entire game.
Tony Garbelotto suffered the most, getting ejected from the game entirely.
Like I said, the frustration is understandable but you have to channel it out more positively.
- By the Numbers
I was given a specific stats sheet by the Hitech staticians that might be revolutionary for the ABL in statistical terms. Lineup Analysis. The Saigon Heat are now primarily using two locals, Han Minh Trieu and Tuan Trung Ngo, in that last slot on the floor beside their 4 imports. Interestingly, despite Minh Trieu’s heroics in the SEA Games, the Heat were able to perform better with Trung Ngo on the court.
With Minh Trieu (17:58 minutes) : 1.5 points/minute, -14 point differential
With Trung Ngo (16.45 minutes) : 1.9 points/minute, -3 point differential
Of course, this is in a very small sample space and you can’t take much out of it, but as the season goes and this data is accumulated, we will start to see a better picture of what’s what in the ABL.
- Chris Charles
I wouldn’t exactly call what Chris Charles has been doing as going under the radar, because he has won an ABL player of the week award already, but I still feel that Charles isn’t getting the recognition he deserves. Chris Charles had 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 blocks in this game.
What seems like a monster line for anyone else gets brushed off as another day on the job for Christien Charles.
Charles’ Stats for the season:
19.8 points (8th)
16.8 rebounds (1st)
5.3 blocks (1st)
19.6% Total Rebound Percentage (1st)
13.4% Assist Ratio (1st among Big Men)
10.9% Block Percentage (1st)
3.0 Blocks per Foul (1st)
The Saigon Heat will be playing the KL Dragons next in a rematch of the epic duel. It will played once again at CIS Arena on the 28th of November, and we can hope to see a glorious game once again.
Hitech Bangkok City will also be hosting another familiar face as the Singapore Slingers will be once again visiting town. You can read the recap from last game here, just for a slight taste of what might come. The game will be played on the 30th of November.
Until then, here is Steve Thomas flapping his wings in celebration.
Feature Photo Credit: Kuk Onvisa Thewphaingarm