Alab Pilipinas turns back Saigon, nears ABL semis
Alab Pilipinas was off to a strong start in the playoffs, dousing Saigon, 110-100, for the 1-0 lead in the quarterfinals of the ASEAN Basketball League Sunday at Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Filpinos need one more win to set up a semifinals matchup with second seed Hong Kong Eastern. Game 2 is on April 7 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Alab also registered its first playoff win after Singapore swept them in 2017 playoffs.
Although Alab had control of the Heat midway through the game with a 57-47 lead at the break, it was early in the fourth that the Filipinos slowly pulled away for the victory.
Ray Parks gave Alab a 97-75 lead at the 7:28 mark of the fourth after the Filipinos outscored the Heat 26-14 in a span of around eight minutes across the last two quarters.
The Heat, however, still managed to cut that deficit to just 10, 108-98, with Akeem Scott knocking down a layup with 1:20 remaining in the game to cap off Saigon’s 23-11 spurt.
Time wasn’t on Saigon’s side though as Justin Brownlee’s layup 15 seconds later gave Alab the 110-98 lead, effectively ending the Heat’s retaliation.
“In an effort standpoint it was great but we were far from the sharpest we could be, and that’s on me,” said Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag, whose team faced a Heat side that fielded just six players and played without their head coach Kyle Julius, who get ejected with two minutes left in the first half, for most of the game.
“We have to be sharper both offensively and defensively, we had the game in hand in a lot of instances but we let them get back into it.”
Brownlee was everywhere for Alab finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists while Renaldo Balkman had 17 points, 20 rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
Parks was the high-point man for the Filipinos with 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Maxie Esho had a monster offensive night with 42 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the Heat who will head back to Saigon and try to force a decider.
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