Alab Pilipinas thwarts pesky Taiwan five
Alab Pilipinas’ homegrown crew delivered down the stretch as the Filipino club kept its mastery of the Kaohsiung Truth, 86-77, Sunday in the Asean Basketball League at Kaohsiung Municipal High School Gym in the Southern Taiwanese city.
Ray Parks, Val Acuña and Jeric Fortuna nailed clutch shoots as the Filipinos survived a late run from the Taiwanese team that was riding high on a morale-boosting 83-82 squeaker over Saigon Heat last Saturday.
Parks had 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Alab, whose three victories so far this season have come at the expense of the Truth.
Fortuna made only a single basket, but it was his triple with 51 seconds left that pushed the lead to 84-77.
The Filipinos looked like they were coasting to the win after Acuña hit a triple for an 81-71 advantage with 1:31 remaining.
But Truth import Chris Oliver made six straight points off Alab turnovers to set the stage for a thrilling finish.
Alab unveiled new imports Sampson Carter and James Hughes, who both made an immediate impact, combining for 35 points.
The 6-foot-8 Carter came up with a solid all-around game of 23 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Hughes grabbednine rebounds.
“We’ll take the win but we still have to learn how to finish the game strong,” said Alab coach Mac Cuan. “An almost sure win turned into another close game again due to mental mistakes and unforced turnovers in the end. I hope we lose the habit when we start playing the tougher teams.”
A day after firing a career-best 18 points in the win over Saigon, former Far Eastern U guard Achi Iñigo was held to just six points against Alab.
Raymar Jose, who, like Iñigo, is a heritage import for the Truth, wound up with two points and 10 rebounds for the Taiwanese team, which fell to 1-5. —CEDELF P. TUPAS