Balkman carries Alab Pilipinas one win away from ABL Finals

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 11, 2018 10:10 PM
Balkman carries Alab Pilipinas one win away from ABL Finals
Photo courtesy of ABL

Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee have indeed made the difference as Alab Pilipinas closes in on the Finals of the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League.

Balkman was an immovable object down low, Brownlee was an unstoppable force all over the floor, and the Filipinos got the better of home team Hong Kong for the first time in the season, 98-94, in Game 1 of the semifinals on Wednesday at the Southorn Stadium.

The Puerto Rican had a monster of double-double of 46 points and 14 rebounds all while battering both Christian Standardinger and Ryan Moss while the American flirted with a triple-double and wound up with 16 markers, 12 boards, and nine assists.

Without a doubt, those two reinforcements were the reason why the Philippines was able to solve the defending champions for the first time.

More importantly, it’s because of Balkman and Brownlee that Alab is now one win away from playing in the championship round for the first time in the two-year existence of the franchise.

Eastern actually raced out of the gates and put up a 25-14 lead after the opening salvo only to see Balkman impose his will and fuel a 36-point second quarter that swung both the advantage and the momentum over to his team’s side, 50-43, at halftime.

Filipino-German Standhardinger, Tyler Lamb, and Li KI rallied the defending champions all the way back to a tied tally of 94-all with 56 ticks to go on the clock, but Balkman stopped them dead in their tracks with two clutch free throws and then a rebound on a defensive stop.

Brownlee made good on a couple more charities to seal the deal.

Reigning and defending Local MVP Ray Parks Jr. also turned in one of his best games of the season with an all-around 26 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block.

Still, it was clearly Balkman and Brownlee who made sure the Philippines got a different ending against Hong Kong.

Early in the season, they fell twice to the defending champions, but that was when Ivan Johnson and Reggie Okosa were manning the import spots.

Now, Balkman, Brownlee, and the rest of Alab are as determined as ever to sweep the best-of-three semifinals on Sunday at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna. As always, all of the action will be on S+A, S+A HD, and livestream.

Lamb topped the scoring column for Eastern with 32 points; Standhardinger contributed an 18-point, 15-rebound double-double; and Marcus Elliott tallied a triple-double of 22 markers, 10 boards, and 10 assists.

All of it still wasn’t enough, however, as they have now been pushed to the brink of being dethroned.

BOX SCORES

SAN MIGUEL ALAB PILIPINAS 98  - Balkman 46, Parks, Jr. 23, Brownlee 16, Domingo 6, Javelona 3, Raymundo 2, Hontiveros 2, Urbiztondo 0, Alabanza 0, Celiz 0.

HONG KONG EASTERN 94  - Lamb 32, Elliott 22, Standhardinger 18, Lee 10, Moss 5, Lau 3, Xu 2, Tang 2.

QUARTER SCORES: 14-25, 50-43, 75-62, 98-94.

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