STA. ROSA, Laguna – San Miguel Alab Pilipinas may have gotten off a poor start this season, but it made sure to finish right on top.
Banking on imports Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee, Alab turned back Thailand’s Mono Vampire, 102-92, in the winner-take-all Game 5 to bag the Asean Basketball League (ABL) championship on Wednesday, May 2, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex.
Balkman, this season’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, played an integral part in defending home court as he unloaded a team-high 30 points along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Brownlee also flirted with a triple-double, dropping 24 points, 12 boards and 9 assists with just a single turnover to boot.
Both imports combined for just 5 giveaways all game, compared to 15 in the previous game they lost in Thailand.
Ray Parks added 13 points for Alab Pilipinas, the 3rd Philippine team to rule the regional league after the Philippine Patriots in 2010 and the San Miguel Beermen in 2013.
Parks, the league’s two-time ABL local Most Valuable Player, copped the Finals MVP in the series that also saw former PBA star Jimmy Alapag cap his rookie coaching stint with a crown
Even with Alab up by 16 late in the third quarter, 72-56, Balkman continued to pile on Mono’s misery with a personal 7-2 run ending with a two-handed jam for the 24-point lead, 82-58.
Just as Paul Zamar and company were making a small run in the 4th, Brownlee ruined that with a transition dunk all over 7-foot-5 Mono import Sam Deguara for the 89-73 lead.
With 53.7 ticks left, Balkman did the honors of delivering the dagger hook for a 102-87 lead.
Alab, though, had a bit of worry early in the 4th quarter when Parks fished his 4th foul – just one away from disqualification – with still 8:01 left on the clock.
Josh Urbiztondo and Pao Javelona made up for their captain’s benching, however, by helping Alab gain a16-point buffer, 67-51, midway through the quarter.
A Law Domingo and-one with 3:42 left completed the 15-0 run and gave Alab a whopping 21-point cushion, 72-51.
In the second quarter, Mike Singletary helped trim down Alab’s lead to single digit, 38-45, with one of his feared triples off a Jason Brickman pass that culminated a 15-6 run.
Not to be outdone, living legend Dondon Hontiveros lifted the Filipino squad back to a 12-point advantage, 52-40, with a long bomb of his own. Both teams ended the half trading highlights as Balkman’s crushing poster dunk over Deguara was answered with a buzzer-beating Singletary bank shot that cut the Mono deficit to 9, 45-54.
Balkman came outdominant early, dropping 14 of Alab’s first 27 points. He went fully automatic with his inside shots and fished two fouls on Deguara while he was at it. As a result, Mono only had 14 points as an answer in the first period.
Singletary did everything in this game, dropping a game-high 32 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 39 minutes of action. Deguara was also his usual monstrous self despite getting cut near his eyes, chipping in 24 points with 18 boards in the losing effort.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas (102) – Balkman 32, Brownlee 24, Parks 13, Domingo 9, Raymundo 9, Javelona 7, Urbiztondo 5, Hontiveros 3, Alabanza 0, Celiz 0, Maierhofer 0, Sumalinog 0
Mono Vampire (92) – Singletary 32, Deguara 24, Zamar 19, Brickman 9, Chanthachon 6, Apiromvilaichai 2, Khukhandhin 0, Boonyai 0, Sunthonsiri 0, Phuangla 0, Ananti 0, Klahan 0
Quarter Scores: 27-14, 54-45, 82-61, 102-92
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