San Miguel Alab Pilipinas bounced back from an upset loss in their last game to trounce the visiting Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, 87-75.
Reeling from a heartbreak defeat against the Westports Malaysia Dragons on the road, the defending ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champions banked on their stingy defense to break Eastern’s four-game win streak.
Alab Pilipinas forced Eastern imports O’Darien Bassett and Marcus Elliott to shoot 7-for-22 from the field and just under 31 percent as a team during the first two quarters to enter the half with a 44-32 lead.
Hong Kong Eastern sorely needed a legitimate inside presence without big man Samuel Deguara, who was limited to playing only a little over four minutes in the first half after being called for three early fouls.
The home squad continued to attack the paint with a less-aggressive Deguara, before Renaldo Balkman eventually gave the home team their biggest lead of the evening at 60-40 after hitting a corner three at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.
Eastern had one final push late in the fourth quarter as they cut the lead back down to single-digits at 79-70 with 2:43 remaining in the game after a Bassett triple, but three consecutive baskets from PJ Ramos effectively sealed the win for the defending champions.
After a relatively quiet outing in their previous game, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. showed out with 24 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while PJ Ramos had a field day in the paint to finish with 31 points, 12 boards, and seven dimes. Lawrence Domingo also took advantage of the undermanned Eastern frontcourt to add 10 markers to go with seven rebounds.
Meanwhile, imports Marcus Elliot and O’Darien Bassett bucked their slow start to finish with 20 and 19 points, respectively, while Sam Deguara was limited to 14 points and nine boards. Local guard Chan Siu Wing added nine points for Eastern in the loss.
With the loss, Eastern (7-5) falls out of a three-way tie for the third spot with the Saigon Heat and the Formosa Dreamers, dropping to sole possession of sixth place, while Alab Pilipinas remains on top after notching their sixth win in seven contests.
Both teams will play on the road on January 13, with Alab Pilipinas travelling to Taiwan to take on the Formosa Dreamers, while Hong Kong Eastern is set to face the Saigon Heat in Vietnam.
Follow us on Twitter at @aseansports1.