San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ early season rematch against the CLS Knights Indonesia did not come as easy as in their first meeting.
After winning by as much as 27 in their home opener, the defending ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champions barely escaped the GOR Kertajaya with the victory, needing an extra five minutes to claim an 88-80 decider.
After trailing for most of the first half, the Surabaya-based squad played inspired basketball in the final two quarters, outscoring Alab Pilipinas 46 to 33, putting themselves in a good position to pull off an upset against the heavily favored Philippine team.
The Knights’ Wong Wei Long had a chance to ice the victory in front of their roaring home crowd, but missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer, sending the game into extra period.
Alab Pilipinas took advantage of their depth as the game went into extra time, securing the victory by scoring 13-straight points and limiting the then-worn out Knights to only one field goal in overtime.
“Our guys mad enough plays both offensively and defensively down the stretch to get the win,” said head coach Jimmy Alapag, he also commended their opponents for playing tougher in the final two quarters of regulation.
“Credits to CLS, though. I thought they played with great energy in the second half. They made some tough shots, especially from Maxie Esho, and they were much more active defensively,” he continued.
Balkman was the star of the night once again with 36 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and four steals for Alab Pilipinas. Meanwhile, fellow Puerto Rican PJ Ramos added 25 and 11.
Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who opted to skip the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Draft to play in Surabaya added 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, and also drained the deciding three to put them up by four with 1:16 remaining in overtime. He was selected second overall during the afternoon’s event in Manila.
The Knights’ were again led by forward Maxie Esho with 30 points, eight rebounds, and three steals, while fellow import Montay Brandon added 18 points, 12 boards, and three swipes. Stephen Hurt was limited to six markers, while local guards Wong Wei Long and Sandy Kurniawan added 10 points each in the overtime loss.
With the victory, Alab Pilipinas remains at the top at 2-0, while CLS clings on to 8th place with a 2-5 card. The Knights are set to visit the winless Wolf Warriors on December 19, while the Philippine club hosts fellow top team Formosa Dreamers on the 21st.
Follow us on Twitter at @aseansports1.