Alab, Alapag on threshold of ABL glory
Bobby Ray Parks Jr. was due for a breakout game after his recent choice as the Most Valuable Player for the second straight season among the local standouts of the Asean Basketball League.
When it came Saturday, the 25-year-old guard and former two-time UAAP MVP outshone his two celebrated import teammates while lifting San Miguel Alab Pilipinas to the threshold of the ABL championship the country last won in 2013.
Parks set a Finals record 30 points for locals as Alab turned back Mono Vampire of Thailand, 99-93, at Stadium 29 in Bangkok to grab a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five championship series.
Alab tries to reward Jimmy Alapag his first international title in his first stint as a head coach when it goes for the clincher in Monday’s Game 4 also scheduled at Stadium 29. In case a Game 5 becomes necessary, the series will end at Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Center in Laguna on Wednesday.
Justin Brownlee, the two-time Barangay Ginebra import in the PBA, also shone for Alab while playing despite a slight hamstring injury he sustained in Game 2 which Mono won in Santa Rosa, 100-103, on Wednesday to tie the series.
Alab took the opener in overtime, 143-130.
Brownlee unloaded 27 points then issued an assist to Lawrence Domingo that settled the issue, 97-90, with 28 seconds left in Game 3. Renaldo Balkman, also a former PBA import, added 24, 18 of them in the first half where Alab led by as many as eight points at 32-24.
The southpaw Parks, whose late father was one of the best imports ever in the PBA, fired back-to-back triples in the last quarter where he finished with 10 points. His last basket, a fadeaway shot, gave Alab enough breathing room after Mono had moved within three at 90-93. Then came Brownlee’s key assist to Domingo.
“Tonight, without a doubt, that was just an MVP type of performance,” said Alapag of Parks, who also helped Gilas Pilipinas win a Southeast Asian Games gold medal last year and will be a top pick if he joins the PBA draft next year.
San Miguel Beer won the last ABL title for the country in 2013 with the AirAsia Philippine Patriots owned by Mikee Romeo prevailing in the inaugural staging in 2009.
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