The Saigon Heat advance to the Finals in an ABL competition for the first time ever by the
slightest margin possible over the Singapore Slingers, 86-85.
Once again, the two teams put on display how intense their rivalry has become as they traded
runs back and forth before heading down to the wire, trading baskets and leads.
The Singapore Slingers came out of the gates confidently, building up a lead of as much as 10
points in the first quarter. However, it didn’t take long for the hometown Heat to rally behind
their faithful fans, conjuring a 17-0 run to claim the lead heading into the halftime break.
It was then the Heat’s turn to build up their cushion and they led by as much as 13 points in the
third quarter. But, once again, the Slingers didn’t not roll over and bow out, fighting back to
make it a tight game that kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
If there were any doubts about who would take over in the final moments for the Heat in tight-
game situations heading into the Playoffs, those questions should not be put to rest following
the performance of Evan Gilyard in these past two games. In Game 2, Gilyard put the team on
his shoulders with 10 fourth-quarter points to force overtime and get the win. He nearly
replicated the feat once again as he headed into the final interval with 11 points before scoring
the Heat’s final 8 points to secure the win.
Gilyard was forced by the Slingers’ defense to play facilitator through the first three quarters
and ended up with 9 assists, but shifted into another gear as a scorer just as his team needed
down the stretch, finishing with 19 points. While Gilyard was the late-game hero, Jeremy
Comb’s performance should not be overlooked as he nearly had a triple-double of 25 points, 11
rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Saigon Heat are now set to make their first Finals appearance in an ABL competition. After
five Playoff appearances that saw they win once in 11 games, the Heat were able to win the
two most important games of the 2023 ABL Invitational – so far – to make it to the last stage for
the first time in franchise history.
They will now go up ahead Hong Kong Eastern, who not only have experience playing in the
Finals but winning in the Finals, too.
The Finals will tip-off on Saturday, March 11 at 5:00 PM (GMT +7). Game 2 will immediately
follow on Sunday, March 12 at 5:00 PM (GMT +7) as well. If two games are not enough to
decide the champions of the 2023 ABL Invitational, a deciding Game 3 will be scheduled to play
on Tuesday, March 14 at 5:00 PM (GMT +7).