TRAILING at the start, the Saigon Heat recovered from a 13-point deficit to beat Alab Pilipinas, 72-65, in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) game held late Sunday evening at the jam-packed Almendras Gym Davao City Recreation Center (DCRC) that was recently renovated.
Some 2,600 Dabawenyo fans were dismayed as Saigon Heat broke through the defense of Alab Pilipinas whose double-digit lead was erased barely three minutes and 17 seconds left in the match.
Heat's Moses Morgan fired beneath the rim, forcing a 64-all deadlock, after Christien Charles fueled a 5-0 run.
Alab players, who dominated the first three periods, could not get their acts together.
The Vietnamese took a 66-64 advantage when Morgan followed up a missed attempt.
Alab's Lawrence Domingo was fouled but failed to convert his two charity baskets to force another deadlock.
Heat's David Arnold scored on an easy basket to stretch their lead, 68-64, with only 1:23 to go.
Lawrence was again sent to the free throw line, only making one of his two attempts.
Arnold, meanwhile, made a step-back jumper to improve 70-65 lead with 19 seconds left.
Alab's Bobby Ray Parks Jr. tried to stage a comeback with a desperate triple but failed. Arnold, who was then fouled, sank the final basket for the Heat's victory. He was named best player of the game, finishing with 19 points including 12 in the fourth canto.
Lenny Daniel and Sampson Carter added 18 and 9, respectively, for Saigon Heat which improved to a 2-7 win-loss card in the team standing.
Parks, for his part, canned 28 markers including three treys while Sampson Carter had 13 points for Alab who slumped to 6-4.
Parks, in an interview with SunStar Davao, said they stopped playing defense to lose their 13-point edge.
"Honestly, at the end of the day, we still have to play as a team," Parks said.
Alab head coach Ronald Cuan, in a separate interview, was dismayed upon losing the game.
"It was bad, everyone stopped playing defense," Cuan said. He also said they need to defend in the coming games.
Alab will fly back to Singapore on February 12 to face the Slingers and will return to Davao City to redeem themselves at home turf against the Hong Kong Lions on March 19.