By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
By Marcus Chhan
The Heat won a pulsating contest against the Beermen on Saturday at a sold out Tan Binh Stadium thanks in large part to an inspirational game from guard Jai Reyes.
The Filipino, who finished with 22 points, hit clutch shots down the stretch for the Heat including two free throws with six seconds left on the clock to secure the three point margin of victory.
Beermen import Gabe Freeman (16 points) missed a three point shot at the buzzer which would have sent the game into over-time.
Freeman played only 20 minutes of the Beermen's first game of the season because of foul trouble and the visitors looked to get him involved right from the opening tip on Saturday. In the Beermen's first possession up the floor, he immediately went for a post-up move but threw up a brick which team-mate Chris Banchero did well to scoop up and score for the first bucket of the contest.
The pace of the Beermen backcourt in Banchero and Leo Avenido caused the Heat problems all game especially in transition where the Filipinos scored at will.
Avenido's steal and feed to Brian Williams (14 points and 16 rebounds) for an easy layup made it 2-8 early in the first quarter. Buoyed by the good home support, the Heat were level soon after at 10 points apiece after Karl Dehesa's three point effort was rebounded and put back by the excellent Dior Lowhorn.
Lowhorn had a monster game with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
And it was his dunk which signalled an excellent late quarter run by the Heat which ended after they established a 23-20 lead heading into the second period.
However, Heat star David Palmer had picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and perhaps in an effort not to pick up a third, the American was less aggressive on defence in the second quarter.
The Heat certainly missed his presence inside as the Beermen continued to score transition buckets near the basket.
William's steal and dunk was a perfect example of this while Ricardo Cawaling's alley-oop pass for a thunderous dunk by Freeman punctuated this trend - it also made the game 35-40 with 2:38 to go before half-time.
The Heat would respond later through Palmer who drew contact from Freeman to get the bucket and the foul. He made the free-throw to make it 42-46 at the half while Freeman was on his third foul and did not start the third period.
Freeman's presence was not missed, though, as Banchero burst into life in the third along with Asi Taulava.
Taulava, who in the first half been guilty of missing several easy shots, suddenly came to life. First, a one handed dunk which almost ripped out the basketball hoop and stand from its roots. Then, on the next possession he blocked Lowhorn to start a fast-break opportunity for Banchero, who capped the run with a three-point play to give the Beermen a 62-52 lead.
Reyes sunk a triple with less than two minutes to go in the period but the home side would start the final period down by six points.
In the fourth quarter, Jason Rabedeaux's team turned up the heat on Leo Austria's men by outscoring them 30-21.
Palmer hit a sky-hook to give the Heat a 71-70 lead in the fourth quarter but the 6'10'' center had to go to the bench with 7:33 left after picking up his fourth foul. Then, Lowhorn and Reyes stepped up with back to back threes which gave the Heat an 82-76 lead.
The Heat had trouble securing rebounds late in the game. Williams took full advantage of it by scoring on a put back and Freeman helped the Beermen to pull within one point after making a tough lay-up.
Palmer then hit a pair a free throws which gave the Heat an 88-84 lead with 1:36 left. Banchero had a chance to get the Beermen within two on the next possesion but he missed a lay-up. On the other end, Lowhorn, who grabbed eight offensive rebounds, stretched the Heat's lead to 90-84 on a put back with one minute left.
Down by six, the Beermen kept fighting to close the gap. Freeman made a contested lay-up and Avenido hit a timely three-point shot which shaved the Heat's lead to 90-89 with 24.6 seconds left.
Palmer was fouled out after he committed a foul to stop a Beermen break off a Heat turnover. However Freeman was unable to bring the Beermen on top after missing a running hook shot with six seconds left in the game.
Reyes was clutch for the Heat by making two crucial free throws to put the Heat up 92-89. Freeman had a chance to redeem himself but his running three-point shot at the buzzer was a little bit too long.
Eric Menk and Val Acuna added 12 points each for the Beermen in the loss.
Part of the official ABL report was used in this match report.
Quarter scoring: Q1(23-20) Q2(19-26) Q3(20-22) Q4(30-21)
Full-Time: Heat 92-89 Beermen
Saigon Heat: Lowhorn - 27, Palmer - 26, Reyes - 22, Morrison - 9, Tieu - 6, Dehesa - 2.
San Miguel Beermen: Freeman - 16, Williams - 14, Acuna - 12, Menk - 12, Banchero - 11, Taulava - 10, Cawaling - 8, Avenido - 6.