Saigon win fourth consecutive basketball title in overtime

By Hoang Nguyen, Vy AnhSeptember 29, 2023 | 10:00 pm PT
Saigon win fourth consecutive basketball title in overtime
Saigon Heat celebrate winning their fourth consecutive VBA title on September 28, 2023. Photo by VBA
With their comeback 81-76 victory over the Nha Trang Dolphins in overtime, the Heat have taken their fourth consecutive Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) championship home to Saigon.

In the five-game series, defending champions Saigon won the first two games and Nha Trang won game 3. With a 2-1 lead, Saigon had a chance to secure the title in game 4 on Thursday. After a slow start, the score was 36-41 in favor of Nha Trang after the first two quarters. But Saigon made a comeback in the third quarter and led 57-50.

In the fourth quarter, Nha Trang equalized 67-67 and sent the match into extra time. Saigon then took advantage of their opponent's mistakes to end the game with an 81-76 victory.

Kentrell Barkley, the star of Saigon Heat, was named the MVP of game 4 with 33 points and 16 rebounds. The American player was also named the MVP of the finals, with an average of 28.8 points, 14 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4 rebounds per game.

This is the fourth year a player from the Heat was named MVP of the finals. The previous three titles belonged to Tavarion Nix (2019), Joshua Keyes (2020) and Madarious Gibbs (2022).

This year's VBA season had seven participating teams, including the Hanoi Buffaloes, the Thang Long Warriors, the Hochiminh City Wings, the Cantho Catfish and the Danang Dragons. The group stage had 63 matches that took place from June 10 to September 3. In the group stage, teams played each other three times instead of twice like last year.

The two teams that ranked first and second in the group stage advanced straight to the semifinals, while others had to compete in the playoffs.

In the semifinals, Saigon beat the Thang Long Warriors and Nha Trang eliminated the Hanoi Buffaloes.

Saigon started the 2023 season with only one foreign player, while all other teams had two each.

Despite the disadvantage, Saigon still prevailed with their experienced domestic players and shooting guard of Vietnamese descent Hassan Thomas. They topped the group stage with 14 wins and four losses.

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