We’re finally here. After four circuits that saw the teams travel to play in front of fans from
Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia to Vietnam, we’re here for the Final Circuit to determine the
champion of the 2023 ABL Invitational.
The games of the Final Circuit shall return to Vietnam, home of the top seed Saigon Heat. In the
Semi-Finals, the Heat shall face the fourth seed, Singapore Slingers.
The Heat finished the season with an 11-3 record, the best in the competition. They wrapped
up their campaign at home with a 3-game win streak leading up to the Playoffs, including a win
over the Slingers, their upcoming opponents. With an average of 73.1 points allowed per game,
the Heat are the second-stingiest team in the tournament. However, they are also second in
scoring with 87.5 points scored per contest. Their offense is powered by their three-point
shooting where they knock down 38.6 percent of their three-point shots, the highest
conversion rate among all teams.
Neither are the Slingers pushovers. Though they had to sweat it out until their last game to
qualify for the Playoffs with a 9-5 record, everyone knows how tough the Slingers are. You must
be tough to make the Playoffs for the eighth time across all ABL competitions. While the
Slingers are usually known for their trademark defense, they’ve kicked it up a notch on the
other end this time to lead the entire competition in scoring with 94.3 points per game and
assists with 23.6 dimes per game. They’ve always found a way to score efficiently, which is why
they also lead all teams in field goal percentage at nearly 50 percent. They are still launching
three-pointers at a lower rate than modern teams (290 attempts, lowest in the competition),
but those who have followed the team over the years know that the Slingers have taken a leap
forward in 2023.
The clash between the Saigon Heat and the Singapore Slingers is expected to be a highly
intense one, which should please the fans in Vietnam.
On the other side of the bracket, NS Matrix Malaysia shall go up against Hong Kong Eastern. NS
Matrix ended the fourth circuit by losing 2 of 3 games to finish with a 10-4 record, but make no
mistake about it – they should still be considered one of the best teams in the field.
Prior to the Vietnam circuit, the lone newcomer team in the Playoffs were on a 9-game win
streak, among one of the longest win streaks in the history of ABL competitions. They played
through the Vietnam circuit without star center Amir Williams, who is expected to make a
return when they play again in Vietnam. Because they have the likes of Williams and Tevin
Glass, NS Matrix aren’t afraid to play a physical style of basketball, which results in them taking
the greatest number of free-throws (265) among all teams. It’s good for them as well that they
are the best free-throw shooting team (74.3) among all teams.
There’s no surprise that Hong Kong Eastern are here in the final stage, as they have usually
been through their time playing in ABL competitions. They have a strong core with a solid
supporting bench that plays great defense, allowing the least number of points on average at
68.1 per game. With strength up and down their roster, they also lead all teams in rebounds
with 41.3 per game, making it a tough job for any of their opponents to go up against. Eastern
might not have had as eventful a third and fourth circuit compared to the other Playoff teams,
but they found their groove early on and are looking to go all the way.
The teams will face each other in a best-of-three format, ensuring that the fans get to soak in as
much entertaining action as they can get. The two teams to advance from the Semi-Finals will
face each other in the Finals in another best-of-three series to settle the score for the grand