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Heat Come Out Swinging Against Slingers

With their backs against the proverbial wall, it was put-up-or-shut-up time for the Saigon Heat with their playoff hopes on the line.

And it was the Singapore Slingers who had to suffer the fallout.

American baller Justin Williams had a huge night as Saigon prevailed 85-63 over the shellshocked Slingers in one of the Heat’s two remaining regular season home games. Williams bagged 32 points and 18 rebounds against a Slingers squad that featured former Heat players Dior Lowhorn and Justin Howard. Teammate Dustin Scott also figured prominently in the win with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Howard had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Singapore.

The win gives the Heat an 8-10 record and ties them in fourth place for the final playoff spot for the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Playoffs. The team they’re tied with, the Indonesia Warriors, host the Heat on Wednesday in possibly the biggest game in the Vietnamese squad’s history.

New head coach Tony Garbelotto acknowledged the gravity of the matchup against the Warriors this week, as well as offering praise for the expanded role of domestic player Phan Tran Man, who played almost half the game with most of the regular rotation and grabbing a respectable five points and four rebounds.

“We have to go (to Indonesia) and win that game,” said Garboletto, whose shirt had an embossed Coach Rab logo to pay tribute to former coach Jason Rabedeaux, who passed away last month.

“The bottom line is we talked about playing well against top teams. I hope it gives the players confidence.”

It was a dominant performance, with the Heat leading 41-20 at halftime and by as many as 25 points at different intervals during the game. Williams in particular was in the zone, dunking at will and rarely giving the outgunned Slingers a chance at a rebound.

“We’re fighting for our lives, everybody played hard,” Williams said. “It’s do-or-die time.”

The Heat close out their regular season this coming Friday at home against Hitech Bangkok City at the Canadian International School (CIS) in District 7.

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