After 3 straight losses, Alab Pilipinas seems to be finding its groove in the ASEAN Basketball League following a 90-79 triumph over the Westports Malaysia Dragons at the Arena in San Juan Wednesday, January 3.
Behind new world imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman, Alab notched its second straight victory to improve its record to 2-3, with the Ginebra fan favorite Brownlee turning in a stat-line of 29 pts, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and two blocks while Balkman contributed 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and two blocks.
The Dragons were leading 63-60 late in the third quarter until Brownlee fired back-to-back triples and Balkman converted a layup for a 68-63 Pilipinas lead heading into the payoff period.
Alab then used a 13-3 run, sparked and capped by a Balkman 3-point play and dunk, to lead 81-66, its biggest of the game.
The game was Balkman’s first back in the Philippines since being banned from the Philippine Basketball Association in 2013 for a choking incident involving his Petron Blaze Boosters teammate Arwind Santos.
“I commend Renaldo and Brownlee, they just came in today. The local guys withstood the adversity, their focus and commitment to what we are trying to do as a team, they deserve the win tonight,” said Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag, whose team won their first home game in 3 tries.
Alab got off to a hot start and zoomed to a 20-7 advantage before the Dragons slowly came back into the game late in the second quarter behind Joshua Munzon’s efforts, cutting the lead to one, 30-31.
Two consecutive Josh Urbiztondo treys and and a Rob Celiz layup put Pilipinas up 39-32 heading into the break.
Munzon, who played his first game for the Dragons as a returning Heritage Import, scorched hot for 21 points and 9 rebounds. Allen Jeffrey West Jr dominated the paint with 16 markers and 22 boards.
Alab Pilipinas will face the Singapore Slingers (3-4) next on Sunday, January 7 in Singapore.
Alab (90): Brownlee 29, Balkman 17, Urbiztondo 13, Celiz 10, Parks 8, Domingo 6, Maierhoffer 4, Hontiveros 3, Javellona 0, Sumalinog 0, Alabanza 0, Raymundo 0
Westsports (79): Munzon 21, Marshall 17, West 16, Yeo 8, Kuek 4, Cabahug 0, Ng 0, Teo 0
Quarter scores: 23-13, 39-32, 68-63, 90-79. – Rappler.com