Hong Kong beats Alab Pilipinas in the 2017 ABL opener

MANILA, Philippines - “Almost but not quite.” Tanduay Alab Pilipinas fell in the hands of visiting Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, 93-89. Alab Pilipinas however, gave Hong Kong a very good fight and definitely entertained the home crowd on Sunday, November 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Christian Standhardinger’s crucial baskets in the later part of the 4th quarter saved Hong Kong
Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger’s crucial baskets in the later part of the 4th quarter saved Hong Kong Eastern’s game opener. Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports

It was a good start indeed for Tanduay Alab Pilipinas as the home team opened the 2017 ASEAN Basketball League Season with a quick 5 to nothing run against the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team.

Ex-Ginebra and Singapore Slinger Josh Urbiztondo led the early attack and dropped 2 consecutive long bombs but the Lions retaliated immediately spearheaded by their world import Marcus Elliott.

San Miguel Rookie and Eastern heritage import Christian Standhardinger scored against Ivan Johnson under the rim to snatch the lead from Alab Pilipinas 15-14 with 3 minutes remaining in the opener.

Hong Kong intensified its defense against the Philippines in the latter part of the first. With this, the Eastern was rewarded with a 6-point lead, 24-18.

Marcus Elliott posted his double-digit superb performance in the 2nd period and widened Eastern’s lead to 9, 35-26 that signaled Alab Coach Jimmy Alapag to bring his key players Ray Ray Parks and Josh Urbiztondo.

Deadly Oping Sumalinog drained 2 consecutive triples to cut Hong Kong’s lead to just 5. Coach Edu Torres promptly called a halt to stop Philippines’ offensive momentum.

The combination of Marcus Elliott and Tyler Lamb became a major concern for Coach Jimmy Alapag. Alab was able to bring the lead down to just 2 but Eastern’s imports were simply unstoppable from both the shaded area and rainbow country. After the first 20 minutes, Hong Kong led Philippines 54-43.

Alab’s another world import Reggie Okosa and Ray Ray Parks became more active at the start of the third quarter but Christian Standhardinger and Marcus Elliott did the same to Philippines and managed to preserve their wide margin.

At the 3:10 mark, Ivan Johnson trimmed the lead to 8 with a drive to the left. Reggie Okosa added 2 more via unsportsmanlike free throws.

Slowly but surely, Alab Pilipinas was getting back on track. The once 15-point Hong Kong lead was downsized to 5, 73-68 at the end of the third.

Alab Pilipinas started the final quarter hot. Josh Urbiztondo sank another three pointer followed by Ray Ray Parks’ and one for the lead, 74-73. It was Philippines’ first lead since the early phase of the 1st period.

Alab’s lead was cut short by Ryan Moss, the 43 year old world import of Hong Kong. Just couple of minutes after Philippines took the lead, Eastern was again up by 8 points.
At the final 2 minutes of the game, Hong Kong’s lead was still 6, 87-81.

Alab Pilipinas lost Ivan Johnson due to personal fouls and Dondon Hontiveros has yet to score. Good thing that Pilipinas managed to neutralize Elliott and Lamb that left Eastern’s scoring chores on the shoulders of Moss and Standhardinger.

Reggie Okosa buried his first triple of the game that gave Alab Pilipinas a ray of hope to win the game. 88-86 in favor of Hong Kong with 34 ticks left in the game clock.

Standhardinger connected with a mid-range jumper for the 4-point lead while Ray Ray Parks completed a 3-point basket to cut the Eastern lead to just 1, 90-89.

With just 1 point slim advantage, Hong Kong had 10 seconds in possession. The ball went straight to Christian Standhardinger’s hand and without any hesitation, the Fil-German pulled the trigger for the 92-89 dagger. Josh Urbiztondo took the last shot from the half court and almost made it.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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