Basketball in Vietnam catches fire, Saigon Heat win 3rd straight

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The Saigon Heat extended their ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) winning streak to three with a dramatic 70-69 victory over the Westports Malaysia Dragons in Ho Chi Minh City Sunday.

The Heat gave the sold-old crowd Tan Binh Stadium their best performance of the season. The Ho Chi Minh City fans have been called the best in the ABL and they had a chance to help their team pull out a win in the final seconds of the game.

With less than a minute to play, the Heat found themselves behind 69-66. Point guard Jon Smith hit a pull up jump shot to cut the lead to one. And then with the Heat fans invoking a thunderous D-FENCE chant, newcomer Jahmar Thorpe stole the ball from the Dragons' best player, Tiras Wade. He was fouled on en route to the basket and calmly swished both his free throws to give the Heat the lead for good.

Center Jonathan Jones had a fantastic game with 19 points and 22 rebounds. Smith and shooting guard Noy Javier chipped in 14 points each, as the Heat received contributions from their entire roster.

Thorpe, who made his Saigon Heat debut last week, led all scorers with 24 points in the Heat's first road victory Wednesday, beating the Singapore Slingers 72-67.

With 18 points and two game winning free throws Sunday, the small forward with a penchant for ferocious dunks is quickly becoming an ABL sensation.

After losing their first seven ABL contests, the Heat beat the Thailand Slammers at home on February 26 and have not lost since.

The Heat have two more home games this week. First they will take on the Philippines Patriots at Tan Binh Stadium on March 14 and then will face the Indonesia Warriors on March 17.

For information on tickets, visit the team's website at www.saigonheat.com.

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