|Nguyễn Văn Hùng of Thang Long Warriors tries to score under two Cantho Catfish defenders threat during their VBA match on August 1 in Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of VBA|
HÀ NỘI — The Thang Long Warriors struggled to beat Cantho Catfish 94-86 in a thrilling VBA match on August 1 at the Tây Hồ Gymnasium in Hà Nội.
It was their second meet this season in which the Catfist expected to make a comeback after losing 83-78 in June.
The team’s representative stated its goal was entirely possible because their rookie Joshua Keyes was in his best form. The Finals VBA 2020 MVP played successfully to help the Catfish beat Ho Chi Minh City Wings 95-89 despite competing on away ground on July 28.
The visitors tried to set up their domination from the beginning with rapid attacks but their players couldn’t seem to warm up enough. Many of their attempts were inaccurate.
On the other side, the Warriors made up an impressive performance. Their counter-attacks were unstoppable. Youngster Nguyễn Tuấn Anh scored five points to push the hosts ahead at 14-3 in the early minutes.
Keyes and his teammates tried their best to break through the Warriors’ defence but they could only reach the 10-point mark in the eighth minute. In the meantime, it was 24 for the hosts which ended the first quarter at 30-16.
|Thang Long Warriors players celebrate their 94-86 over Cantho Catfish. — Photo courtesy of VBA|
The Warriors made it even better in the second. Sharp point hunter Sameen Swint was in good form, finding many opportunities to score. He helped the Warriors lead 46-21 after five minutes of the second quarter.
Coach Jordan Collins put his veteran Tô Quang Trung on the court to strengthen his forward. However, the 39-year-old could not lift up his team which was led 53-35 before the break.
It seemed that the 15-minute interval worked well for the Catfish. Collins rearranged his team and pushed them up.
Duo Michael Soy and Lê Ngọc Tú tore the roof off the gymnasium with their three-pointers from the edge of the court.
Along with Brachon Griffin’s free throws, the Catfish gradually narrowed the score in the third quarter.
In the fifth minute, the Warriors’ foreign duo was sidelined at the same time. Swint made a technical mistake while towering John Fields got his fourth personal foul.
It was time for Keyes to shine. He narrowed the gap to 65-56 before Griffin was successful with his shots to make it 72-67, just a five-point gap for the Warriors at the end of the third quarter.
In the decisive 10 minutes, Chris Daleo sent Fields back to the court to strengthen his defence. The ‘block machine’ however could not stop Griffin from scoring. He made it easy to level 74-74 for the Catfish which went ahead 81-79 for the first time at the fifth minute.
The Warriors didn’t let the Catfish’s moment last long though. Trương Hoàng Trung stole the ball and assisted his teammates to make it 81-81 before he himself secured two three-pointers to set the lead again at 91-83.
In the last minute, the Catfish opened strong attacks but couldn’t break the Warriors’ defence again. They lost 94-86.
Swint pocketed 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and took the Player of the Game award.
The Warriors will host the Nha Trang Dolphins on August 5 while the Catfish will visit defending champions Saigon Heat on August 4.