Nakiea Miller returned to the AirAsia Philippine Patriots fold in a big way, helping defeat the Saigon Heat, 76-70, Wednesday night in the ASEAN Basketball League at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Miller contributed on almost every aspect of the game with 17 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks in his comeback as the Patriots’ reinforcement and helped improve their win-loss slate to 14-4, just half-a-game behind the San Miguel Beermen (15-4).
The Patriots got back to their winning ways after suffering a stinging setback against the Indonesia Warriors last Saturday, where they only had one import – Anthony Johnson – available.
Miller got clearance to once again play for the team after replacement Chris Alexander left the country, playing just one game for the Patriots.
He showed a glimpse of why he was acquired as the import in the first place.
“He’s not yet in shape but he knows the system,” said Patriots coach Glenn Capacio.
“That is why we are successful in our game because we are sharing the ball. Sometimes, we just relax on defense because they know that we have an advantage on offense,” he added.
The Patriots never posted a big lead but were never seriously threatened by the Heat either. Al Vergara converted a three-pointer in the third quarter to give the Patriots a 10-point lead, 51-41, in the third.
Johnson had a team-high 19 points while Vergara added 11 points and six assists for the Patriots.
Capacio also expressed satisfaction over officiating, in stark contrast to last weekend’s game against the Warriors.
“Eto ‘yung pinakamagandang officiating na nakita ko this year, consistent sila,” Capacio said. “Sana mag-improve pa dahil malapit na ang semifinals.”
Jonathan Jones had 21 points while Jahmar Thorpe added 16 for the Heat, whose win-loss record fell to 6-11.