Pro basketball in Vietnam heats up as Saigon club wins first game

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Vietnam's first professional basketball club, the Saigon Heat, won for their first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) game on Sunday, defeating the defending champion Thailand Slammers 60-55 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Despite being the losers of 7 straight, 2,000 local fans packed Tan Binh Sports Center to watch the Heat play for the first time under new head coach Jason Rabedeaux.

The Heat crashed the offensive glass ferociously from the start, jumping out to a 21-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Jonathan Jones led the Heat with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Javier Dominador scored 17, including four three-point shots.

After halftime, the Slammers began to show why they are the reigning champs. Behind the tough play of Deandre Thomas and the long range shooting of Boyet Bautista the Thai visitors took a 53-48 lead midway through the fourth period.

But the Heat's Javier refused to let his team lose, catching fire when it mattered most. His free throw with under one minute to play sealed the victory. 

Next the Heat will fly to Singapore to clash with the Singapore Slingers, which will be broadcast by ESPN on March 7. In the first round of league play, the Heat lost to the Slingers by five in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Heat's next home game is on March 11 against the Malaysian Dragons.  Both of the Heat's games next week will be broadcast on ESPN.

For more information on the Saigon Heat and how to obtain tickets, visit the team's website at www.saigonheat.com or call 0912241511.

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