HK puts defending champ Alab in must-win situation in ABL quarters

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 29, 2019 10:16 PM
HK puts defending champ Alab in must-win situation
Alab Pilipinas only has two wins to show in their last eight games (FILE PHOTO)

Alab Pilipinas is one loss away from getting dethroned in the 2018-2019 Asean Basketball League.

The Filipinos have been pushed to the brink after visiting Hong Kong kept coming on Friday and ultimately pulled off a 90-88 comeback win at Hoops Center in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Not even a finally healthy starting five could stop the Philippines from suffering its sixth setback in the last eight games.

The home team had no answer for O'Darian Bassett who single-handedly gave life to visiting Eastern even after they fell behind by 15 points in the third quarter.

Ethan Alvano, Josh Urbiztondo, Ray Parks Jr., Pao Javelona, and even Renaldo Balkman all had a crack at the American reinforcement, but none were able to even slow him down.

It was Bassett's assist, though, that led to the go-ahead triple from Lau Tsz Lai in the endgame.

Alab was unable to answer and at the other end, had to send Marcus Elliott to the free throw line where he made both and mounted a 90-86 advantage in favor of Hong Kong with 13 ticks to go.

A quick play got Balkman a short stab and in the ensuing play, the Filipinos forced a turnover off an inbound.

With eight seconds to tie the tally, or actually win the game, however, Parks Jr. tried to force feed his imports, but neither Balkman nor PJ Ramos were open.

With the game clock dying down, the back-to-back Local MVP had no choice but to lob a floater over the outstretched arms of Michael Holyfield.

The game-tying try fell way short and not long after, Hong Kong was celebrating a big-time win in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinals series.

In the end, Balkman topped the scoring column with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists while Ramos also added his own 17 markers, seven boards, and four dimes.

Caelan Tiongson had 13 points and seven rebounds to his name while Parks Jr. chipped in 10 markers.

None of them, though, could do anything about Bassett who wound up with 29 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Backstopping him was Elliott who had 22 markers, eight boards, and five dimes.

After being the top team for three-fourths of the elimination round, the Filipinos have now lost five in a row.

They fight to stay alive and to keep their crown a little longer when the matchup shifts to the Southorn Stadium on Wednesday.

BOX SCORES

HONG KONG 90 -- Bassett 29, Elliott 22, Holyfield 14, Lau 9, Xu 8, Siu 5, Lee 3, Chan 0.

ALAB PILIPINAS 88 -- Balkman 30, Ramos 17, Tiongson 13, Parks 10, Alvano 8, Rosser 7, Javelona 3, Urbiztondo 0, Sumalinog 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 22-23, 36-44, 63-66, 90-88.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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