ABL: Alab Pilipinas slays Malaysia Dragons

MANILA, Philippines - Tanduay Alab Pilipinas made its first winning-streak of the season as the nationals slayed the visiting Westports Malaysia Dragons, 90-79, with the aid of new imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at the San Juan Arena.

Alab Pilipinas slays Malaysia Dragons
Justin Brownlee (right) and Renaldo Balkman are certainly Alab Pilipinas’ missing pieces. Photo Credit: aseanbasketballleague.com

Time is of the essence for the new Alab Pilipinas imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. After setting their feet on the Philippine soil once again, the duo met team owner Charlie Dy and coach Jimmy Alapag together with their agent, Ms. Sheryl Reyes for the briefing and immediately suit-up for tonight’s home game against Westports Malaysia Dragons without any practice.

Renaldo Balkman jotted down his first ABL bucket off a steal followed by a floater from Robi Celis for early Alab lead. Balkman didn’t only made a milestone but he also did send a message to the other opposing big men in the league that he’s really a tough nut to crack.

Justin Brownlee placed himself on the scoreboard at the 4-minute mark of the opening quarter off a fastbreak layup and a breakaway dunk to escalate Alab’s lead to 11, 18-7. Despite Brownlee and Balkman’s highlights, it was local Robi Celis who topped the Filipino cagers with 6 points in the opener.

Aside from Alab Pilipinas, Westports Malaysia Dragons have also acquired Filipino-American Joshua Munzon who played for Saigon Heat last season. Munzon ended the 1st quarter with a long trey and led all scorers with 7 markers. Alab however, led the Dragons 23-10 after the first 10 minutes of the game.

Joshua Munzon continued to pour digits as the 2nd period started and managed to cut the 10-point Alab advantage to just 3 in just 2 minutes.

Justin Brownlee scared the pinoy fans as he awkwardly landed on AJ West’s foot. Brownlee sprawled and stayed on the floor momentarily but got up and shook his foot off.

Alab Pilipinas was petrified in the 2nd quarter, The nationals had only scored 4 in 7 minutes against Malaysia’s 17. Joshua Munzon virtually destroyed every Alab defender who was tasked to guard him as he initiated the Dragons-comeback with 14 points under his name.

The other Joshua, Alab’s Joshua Urbiztondo finally heated-up in the latter part of the 2nd quarter as he unleashed back-to-back triples to bring the lead back to 9, 39-30.

The 1st half ended with Alab Pilipinas still on top, 39-32.

Malaysia started the third hot. AJ West and Joshua Munzon led the early onslaught and trimmed Alab’s lead to just 1.

Alab imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman made ways to ramp up the lead and the tandem was somehow successful as they maintained a 4-point lead as the mid-quarter approached.

Malaysia outrebounded Philippines in the entire game. To address the woe, Coach Jimmy Alapag went full blast on his bigs Balkman, Brownlee and Domingo hoping to get boards and convert them into baskets.

“Ice in his veins.” Joshua Munzon was almost flawless in the three point territory and helped the Dragons took the lead from Alab at the 2-minute warning. Justin Brownlee finally found his rhythm and sank a trey for the equalizer, 63-all. To the fans’ delight, “Ginebra-Ginebra” chant echoed in the entire San Juan Arena.

Before the penultimate quarter ended, Brownlee once again drained a long bomb and a seamless assist to Balkman to beat the buzzer with a two-handed dunk. 68-63 after 3 full quarters and Justin Brownlee bannered Tanduay Alab Pilipinas with 24 points.

Dragons Coach Chris Thomas called for a mandatory ceasefire after seeing Alab Pilipinas’ surge as both squads started the final quarter where Philippines reached the double-figure-lead anew in less than 2 minutes.

Coach Thomas’ problems on how to stop the Alab imports piled-up and decided to burn another timeout to find an antidote to the dynamic duo. At the 7th minute of the 4th quarter, the American Coach found his team downed by 15 points, 81-66.

Malaysia made a 5-0 run that prompted Coach Alapag to regroup his team. Nevertheless, his team still led the game by 10 points and his boys brought the huge advantage back after the timeout.

88-74 with just 2 more minutes left in the game clock. Coach Alapag took his imports out of the floor to give them a well-deserved rest as a reward for their gallant efforts.

Alab’s 2nd unit took care of the business until the final horn sounded and finally sealed the deal 90-79. With the win, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas improved its record to 2-3. Alab Pilipinas will face Singapore Slingers on January 7 with the aim to bounce back after Singapore beat Philippines last month here in Manila.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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