Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman both shone in their debut as Alab Pilipinas battered Westports Malaysia Dragons, 90-79, to move up to the fifth spot in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Season 8 on Wednesday night at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Brownlee and Balkman spearheaded a furious second half surge to give the Tanduay-backed squad its second straight win following a dismal three-game losing skid.
With its first home victory, Alab overtook Saigon Heat at No. 5.
“I got to commend Renaldo and Justin. They just arrived this morning. A great effort from them and our local guys,” said Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag.
The two new World Imports, who replaced Reggie Okosa and Ivan Johnson, shrugged off jet lag and lack of sleep to pull off a stellar performance.
The American forward Brownlee pumped in 29 points on top of eight assists and seven rebounds while the Puerto Rican big man Balkman posted a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards.
Local standouts Josh Urbiztondo and Robby Celiz provided ample support with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Alab waxed hot early on, building a 20-7 lead in the first quarter with Urbiztondo and Celiz at the helm.
But Westports slowly reduced the gap and even snatched the lead, 58-56, on Joshua Munzon’s corner triple late in the third frame.
Brownlee drained back-to-back treys to spark a blazing 21-3 rally bridging the final two periods, which was punctuated by Balkman’s breakaway slam for an 81-66 spread with barely seven minutes left in the game.
It was practically over from there as Alab revel in their win in front of their raucous home fans.
Filipino-American swingman Munzon tallied a team-high 21 points highlighted by four three-pointers in his season debut but the Dragons dropped to No. 7 as they fell to a three-game slide after a season-opening win.
ALAB 90 — Brownlee 29, Balkman 17, Urbiztondo 13, Celiz 10, Parks 8, Domingo 6, Maierhoffer 4, Hontiveros 3, Javellona 0, Sumalinog 0, Alabanza 0, Raymundo 0.
WESTPORTS 79 — Munzon 21, Marshall 17, West 16, Yeo 8, Kuek 4, Cabahug 0, Ng 0, Teo 0.
Quarterscores: 23-13; 39-32; 68-63; 90-79