Hong Kong pushes Alab to the brink
Hong Kong Eastern put San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ title retention campaign in peril after a thrilling 90-88 victory Friday night in Game 1 of their ABL Season 9 quarterfinal series at Hoops Dome in Mandaue City.
Beaten by Alab in the semifinals last season, Hong Kong scored a vengeful win on the road, rallying from 15 points down in the second half to move on the brink of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Lau Tsz Lai knocked down a triple with 32 seconds left for the go-ahead basket, 88-86, and import Marcus Elliot nailed two free throws for a four-point gap for Eastern with 10 seconds remaining.
Hong Kong can send Alab packing with another win in Game 2, this time at Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. A deciding game, if necessary, will be played in the Philippines on April 7.
Alab cut the deficit with a Renaldo Balkman basket and the Filipinos had one more opportunity when Hong Kong import OD Bassett committed a turnover in the next play.
But a surprisingly tentative Ray Parks left his jumper short in the final play, allowing the visitors to escape with the victory.
Alab seemed to be in cruise control when it erected a 15-point advantage, 61-46, in the third period after an inside basket by PJ Ramos. But Hong Kong found its stride from beyond the arc and made a game out of it in the final period.
Parks hit a jumper for an 86-85 lead, before Lau’s big shot took the energy out of the Filipino ballclub.
It was Alab’s fifth straight defeat as it continued to wobble following a spate of injuries.