Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman each had a double-double as San Miguel Alab Pilipinas dethroned the erstwhile champions Hong Kong Eastern Lions, 79-72, on Sunday at the Sta.Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex to enter the championship round of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Season 8.
Alab which won 98-94 in Game 1 completed the sweep of their best-of-three series and head coach Jimmy Alapag praised his wards for a great effort.
“As a player, confidence is such a valuable part. That’s one thing I try to encourage my guys,” Alapag said about his team’s effort, praising his imports, as well as his locals. “As we progress in the season, we will need everybody, “ Alapag said.
Brownlee fired 23 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks while Balkman added 21 points, and 10 rebounds after coming off a 46-point effort in Game 1 last Wednesday.
After going back-and-forth for the most part of the game that saw both teams tied at 43-all, Alab broke the game wide open as it unleashed a 17-6 run late in the third to erect a 60-49 advantage heading into the final canto.
Alab started the fourth like a house on fire, as it unloaded three straight triples to take a comfortable 69-51 lead but the visiting squad did not go down easily and made one last run.
Down 77-66 and in all sorts of trouble, the Lions made every bit of effort trimming the lead to seven, courtesy of two free throws from Marcus Elliot and a basket from Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger with 51 seconds to go. But it proved to be too little and too late as the home squad kept their composure to become the first Philippine team to make the finals since 2013.
Ray Parks Jr. follow-suited his double-double performance in Game 1 as he finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Paolo Javelona contributed 11 for Alab which will take on the winner of the Chong Son Kung Fu Basketball Club-Mono Vampire Basketball Club match in the finals.
Elliot, fresh off from his triple-double performance, paced the Lions with 25 points and nine rebounds while Standhardinger pitched in with 16 points and 10 boards.