By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
The Beermen had lost a close encounter to the Heat in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) last weekend in Vietnam, but there was no chance of a repeat-result on Friday as six of Leo Austria's men scored in double digits to post a 100-74 win.
Leading the way for the Filipinos was Gabriel Freeman who poured in 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds while team-mate Brian Williams had 18 points.
Dior Lowhorn was the Heat's shining light with an impressive 29 points in a game which was largely swayed by David Palmer's foul troubles. Heat star Palmer sat out a huge portion of the second quarter as the home team went on to build an unassailable 55-35 lead at half-time.
The Heat put out three guards in their starting five with Phillip Morison, Karl Dehesa, and Jai Reyes on the floor to start the match. And off the opening tip the 'small' line-up offered up some false promise for visiting coach Jason Rabedeaux as Morison made a two-point shot on the very first possession.
However, the home side would start to build a good head of steam through the sheer speed and energy from their own backcourt duo of Chris Banchero and Leo Avenido.
Banchero, in particular, was excellent all game (14 points, 7 assists) and he signalled the end of the first quarter with a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to make it 25-20 to the Beermen.
Lowhorn hit a three pointer - he was 2/4 from beyond the arc - to start the second but the Beermen responded with a triple of their own from Freeman.
Then the moment which would tip the contest heavily in the Beermen's favour.
With 7:21 still left in the period and the score line 32-26, Freemen drove to the hoop and drew the foul from Palmer - his third personal foul at such an early juncture of the game. The big American, who scored 26 points in last Saturday's 92-89 win over the Beermen at Tan Binh Stadium, was substituted and would not return for the rest of the quarter.
Palmer's presence - all 6 foot 9 inches of it - was sorely missed by the Heat on the defensive end and the Beermen quickly began to dominate on the boards and in the paint.
When Freeman was gifted space to follow up his own miss for a tip-in, the lead had been pushed out to double-digits. Then more poor defending inside from a Beermen inbound bass allowed Asi Taulava to score at the basket and make it 51-35 with just over a minute remaining before half-time.
The Heat headed into the half-time break trailing by 20 points (55-35) and a quick glance at the stat sheet showed why. Outrebounded by the Beermen 23-10 at this point, they were also outscored 24-8 in terms of points in the paint.
Palmer would return in the third quarter but by this stage the momentum was fully with the Beermen and they put on a show for their supporters in the second half. Williams delighted fans with a cheeky behind the head pass to Avenido for the easy bucket to push it out to 64-37.
Then it was Banchero's go to turn on the style with a pretty spin move in the post before scoring on the ineffective Jai Reyes late in the third.
Palmer's offensive rebound and put back as time expired made it 80-53 Beermen heading into the final period.
The Beermen would go on to score 20 more points in the fourth quarter to reach the century mark - the first time this has happened in the ABL so far this season.
"We knew what we had to do today [Friday] which was to play a complete game," Freeman said in his post-match interview.
"A complete 40 minute game and the guys did that on the defensive end."
However, there was one blemish of note during Freeman's man-of-the-match display on Friday. An ugly incident with 6:47 left in the fourth quarter where he had to be pulled away from confronting an official after receiving a technical foul.
The official had deemed Freeman's use of the elbow to clear space between him and marker Larry Tieu had been illegal and whistled for the foul. The American protested the call and was slapped with the technical foul to which he reacted angrily to.
Replays show Freeman's elbow had grazed the forehead of the Heat player Tieu.
The Beermen finished the game shooting a notable 59% (38/64) from the field which was far surperior to the Heat's 39% (24/61) - they also scored 44 of their 100 points in the paint.
Quarter scoring: Q1(25-20) Q2(30-15) Q3(25-18) Q4(20-21)
Full-Time: Beermen 100-74 Heat
San Miguel Beermen: Freeman - 21, Williams - 18, Banchero - 14, Taulava - 14, Avenido - 10, Rizada - 10.
Saigon Heat: Lowhorn - 29, Palmer - 18, Tieu - 9.