Hong Kong Eastern shocks the world as they blow out the defending champions San Miguel Alab Pilipinas at home, 102-84, and sweep the series to advance to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) semifinals.
Alab Pilipinas started the game well and had an early double-digit lead in the middle of the first quarter, but this woke up the home squad as they managed to turn it around and dominated on both ends of the floor for the rest of the game.
The defending champions were forced to commit 14 turnovers in the first 20 minutes (17 total), and found themselves at the wrong end of a 27-10 run in the second period. The Philippine club trailed big at halftime, 56-37.
The second half was basically the same story where Hong Kong stayed disciplined and did not make many mistakes, while their opponents struggled to keep up, eventually joining the list of eight other ABL champions (including Eastern) who couldn’t defend their title the following season.
The duo of Marcus Elliot (29 points 8 rebounds) and O’Darien Bassett (28 points, 15 assists, and three steals) accounted for more than half of points scored for the home team in this game. Meanwhile, Michael Holyfield despite early foul trouble still finished with a double-double of 11 and 10, to go with three blocks.
Local sharpshooters Lee Ki and Lau Tsz Lai, who scored 18 and 12 points, respectively, were also crucial for their club after knocking down seven combined three-pointers.
On the visiting side, PJ Ramos recorded team-high 21 markers and 13 boards, and Renaldo Balkman added a double-double with 16 and 11. Meanwhile, reigning local MVP Ray Parks chipped in 19.
Josh Urbiztondo also contributed with 11 off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to cover the underwhelming performances of starters Ethan Alvano and Caelan Tiongson, who had five points combined.
Hong Kong Eastern will face the winner of the Singapore Slingers-Macau Black Bears match-up in the next round.
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