|John Fields jumps high to score points during the VBA match between Hanoi Buffaloes and Thang Long Warriors on August 8 in Hà Nội. — Photos of VBA|
HÀ NỘI — Thang Long Warriors ended Hanoi Buffaloes’ winning streak in a match that saw two key players of the hosts disqualified from the VBA’s 44th game on August 8.
Prior to the capital derby, the Buffaloes had a run of seven consecutive wins, setting a new record for the tournament. Their peak form helped them strengthen their second ranking and threaten defending champion Saigon Heat’s top position.
Their winning streak included two victories over the Warriors in the first centralised stage and their first-leg meet in the second home-and-away stage.
Playing on home ground in Hoàng Mai Gymnasium, full of supporters, was a motivation for the Buffaloes in their second-leg match.
Statistics made them confident at the beginning although it was the visitors who opened the score.
Most of the Warriors’ balls were sent to the towering John Fields who was the key point hunter of the team.
The American, whose scoring performance is best in the league, did a good job. Most of his attempts were converted into points.
|Athletes vie for a ball during the VBA’s 44th game. The Warriors won 95-90 over the Buffaloes.|
Fields’ good form helped the Warriors take a lead of 22-18 in the first quarter.
The Buffaloes tried block Fields in the second quarter. At least three players were assigned to prevent Fields from shooting but the ‘scoring machine’ kept up the pressure.
In addition to keeping the Buffaloes on edge, Fields assisted teammates Sameen Swint and Lê Hiếu Thành to extend the score to 42-31 by the third minute of the second quarter.
Responding to the Warriors’ attacks, the Buffaloes’ heritage player Đinh Thanh Tâm and teammate Vũ Việt Hoàng made brilliant runs with five points each to narrow the score to 43-47.
The Buffaloes’ newcomer Udun Osakue’s warm-up was done in the third quarter. He not only scored but also successfully stole the ball to help his team pocket nine points in a row to push the Buffaloes to the lead for the first time at 52-50 in early time.
But the Buffaloes suffered a big blow when their best scorer Anthony January was sidelined after his angry reaction, throwing his jersey away to object to the referee’s decision.
The Buffaloes maintained their lead of 73-67 into the fourth quarter. But their second blow came two minutes later when Đinh Tiến Công was disqualified because of his second bout of bad conduct.
Missing two players in the starting line-up, it was Osakue’s duty to score. The American still did his job well but his defenders failed to stop Fields bagging more points for the Warriors.
It was 87-83 for the Buffaloes with two minutes left but Lê Hiếu Thành scored four points while his steals helped teammates push the Warriors to lead 91-87 with just 81 seconds remaining.
The Buffaloes narrowed it 91-90 with 20 seconds left and coach Erik Rashad called for a timeout. But his effort did not work as time was not enough and the Warriors wrapped up the match at 95-90.
John Fields won the Player of The Game award with a double-double of 28 points and 18 rebounds.
Buffaloes’ second-place standing remained after the loss while the Warriors strengthened theirs to third position.
In the next matches, the Buffaloes will host Cantho Catfish on August 12 and the Warriors will visit Ho Chi Minh City Wings at Hồ Xuân Hương Gymnasium a day later.