Alab Pilipinas eliminates Hong kong, marches to ABL Finals

MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Alab Pilipinas shutdown and swept last year’s champions Hong Kong Eastern Basketball, 79-72 to take the first Finals seat in the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) on Sunday, April 15 at Sta. Rosa City Arena.

Finals bound: Ray Parks Jr.’s double-double performance helped Alab Pilipinas secured ABL’s 1st Finals spot
Finals bound: Ray Parks Jr.’s double-double performance helped Alab Pilipinas secured ABL’s 1st Finals spot | Photo Credit: Fox Sports PH

In contrast to how Alab started game number 1 in Hong Kong, the ABL Philippine team opened game 2 in a high note and took the early lead.

Justin Brownlee who supported his fellow import Renaldo Balkman previously, waxed hot and pumped the Filipino crowd up with his monster slam dunk.

Hong Kong Eastern Basketball slowly but surely got closer to Alab Pilipinas through the outstanding and relentless efforts of Thai-American import, Tyler Lamb.

The last minute of the opener was extremely wild. Bodies scrambled on the floor as the players fought for every ball possession and at the end of the quarter, the game was tied at 16-all.

Hong Kong broke the deadlock as the Lions started the 2nd period. Alab stars slowed down but ex-TNT Pamboy Raymundo and other bench players stepped-up their game and were able to keep the score tight.

It was a low-scoring ballgame that only proves how competitive both teams are. Nevertheless, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas ended the 1st half with a 37-32 lead with Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman leading all scorers with 10 apiece.

Good news for Alab as Tyler Lamb committed his 4th personal foul with just barely 2 minutes gone by in the third. However, Philippines wasn’t fully able to capitalize on Hong Kong’s major setback.

If there’s one thing that Eastern Basketball was missing, that would be the services of its heritage import and Fil-German Christian Standhardinger who was too quiet in this game. Standhardinger got himself in foul trouble too with 3 more minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Philippines got too fancy at the dying seconds of the 3rd period with Lawrence Domingo and Renaldo Balkman tried to showcase their high-leaping abilities but missed them all. Despite the botched dunks, Alab brought an 11-point, 60-49 lead to the final canto.

Alab Pilipinas just needed 1 more win to advance in the finals. With a must-win mindset in mind, the Nationals unleashed their full potential in the beginning of the fourth and widened their margin to 18 where most of the buckets came from the rainbow country.

It was really a tough night for Tyler Lamb as he consumed his 5th and last foul after inadvertently elbowing Pao Javelona in the face with 7 more minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.

In the absence of Tyler Lamb, Marcus Elliott took the helm and initiated a comeback. In just 2 minutes, the Lions were able to lower down the lead to just 11, 69-58.

Midway of the fourth, Alab had the full control of the game as they managed to protect its lead by imposing a glue-tight defense on Hong Kong.

Hong Kong players showed signs of early surrender as they kept on drawing useless fouls due to frustration.

Christian Standhardinger finally woke up from a long and deep hibernation as he owned the shaded lane and brought the lead down to 7. But it was way too late for him and his team as Alab closed them out.

Standhardinger eventually fouled out in the last 2 minutes of the game and will now join the PBA team who drafted him last month, the San Miguel Beermen for the Commissioner’s Cup which will start in a week.

With the 79-72 victory, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas now awaits the winner of Kung Fu - Mono Vampire match in the Finals.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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