Alab Pilipinas torches Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, steals Game 1 in ABL Semis

MANILA, Philippines - Renaldo Balkman made an ABL history after dropping 46 points and stole semis game 1, 98-94 from reigning champions Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Hong Kong.

Renaldo Balkman broke ABL’s single-game scoring record with 46 points
“Unstoppable!” Renaldo Balkman broke ABL’s single-game scoring record with 46 points and helped San Miguel Alab Pilipinas secured game number 1 against Hong Kong Long Eastern Lions | Photo Credit: ASEAN Basketball League

The last time that Alab and Long Lions faced off, it didn’t end up well for Philippines as the nationals absorbed their 2nd loss against Hong Kong in the regular season and Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman were not on the roster.

Hong Kong’s heritage imports Tyler Lamb and Fil-German Christian Standhardinger spearheaded their team’s scoring barrage and posted an early 11-2 scoring run.

Bad luck struck Alab so hard that even its fastbreak layups missed and turnover kept on piling up. In contrast, Long Lions continued to make big buckets and widened the gap to a dozen at the 2-minute mark.

10 minutes had passed and still, Philippines can’t find its rhythm and found itself down by 11, 25-14.

Alab immediately turned the momentum to its side as the 2nd period started. In less than 2 minutes, Philippines lowered the lead to just 2 courtesy of Renaldo Balkman.

Alab had tightened up its defense on the imports but it forgot to guard Lee Ki who is a legit who three point shooter.

Under 2 minutes of the half, Alab Pilipinas tasted its 1st lead via Ray Parks Jr.’s long bomb followed by another trey from Pao Javelona.

Despite the very poor start, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas unleashed its wild side and bannered a 7-point, 50-43 lead after 2 quarters.

Hong Kong’s Marcus Elliot started the third strong after a quiet 1st half while his fellow world import Ryan Moss kept himself cold and outrebounded by Renaldo Balkman.

Alab Pilipinas maintained its lead in the 3rd quarter. The only thing that Coach Jimmy Alapag was worried about was their team foul. They hit the foul limit too early and with 6 more minutes left in the period.

Philippines recorded its 1st double-digit lead at the 3:34 mark of the 3rd period, 67-56 with Renaldo Balkman leading the way with 29 points and 1 more quarter to go.

At the end of the 3rd quarter, Alab owned Long Lions 75-62.

With Tyler Lamb on the bench due to a shin injury, Marcus Elliott single-handedly carried his team on his back as the prolific reinforcement cut the Alab lead to 7 with over 8 minutes left in the ballgame.

Thai-American Tyler Lamb checked back in to help Marcus Elliott offensively in the fourth. Hong Kong managed to trim the once 15-point advantage to just 4.

Just as Hong Kong gained its thrust, Renaldo Balkman continued to score and on his way to break ABL’s single game scoring record.

The deadly Lee Ki leveled the game at 94 with his specialty of the house, a three pointer with less than a minute remaining.

At the 0:37 mark of the 4th period, Balkman officially owned the league’s record for most points in a single game with 46 big markers and gave Alab a 2-point lead.

With 10 ticks left and downed by 4, Hong Kong’s Lee Ki attempted a three pointer and hoped for a foul to tie the game but he was called for a travelling infraction instead.

Alab Pilipinas drew the first blood in its semis duel against the defending champions Eastern Lions, 98-94 with the chance to increase its series-lead on Sunday, April 15 in Philippines.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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