STA. ROSA, Philippines – A one-month delay did not hinder San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in destroying CLS Knights Indonesia with a 94-67 rout to start its Asean Basketball League (ABL) title defense at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna on Sunday, December 9.
Renaldo Balkman, last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, protected home court with a 33-point, 11-rebound double-double with 3 steals and 3 blocks to start Season 9 of the regional league.
New import PJ Ramos tallied an easy 20 points and 13 boards in his Alab debut, while reigning two-time local MVP Ray Parks Jr chipped in 10 markers in the wire-to-wire win.
It was a complete no-contest from the get-go as Alab – which started its title defense a month after the league kickoff – already led by 19 at halftime, 46-27.
“I’m pleased with the effort especially defensively. CLS is a team that can score in bunches but right from the start of the game we were able to establish ourselves defensively,” said Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag.
“It was a concern [to start the campaign late]. Six games in, you’re pretty much right into the bulk of the season but credit our guys they’ve been working hard for the past few weeks,”
The defending champs continued to pile on the Knights’ woes in the 3rd after the 7-foot-3 behemoth Ramos fired a full-court outlet pass for an easy Balkman bucket down low, 59-31, with 6:41 to go in the frame.
The home team’s advantage reached the 30-point mark, 78-48, after a crafty post pass by new guy Brandon Rosser to key holdover Lo Domingo.
CLS managed to trim the lead to 20, 60-80, midway through the 4th, but Alab’s “Balkmania” closed out the show with back-to-back slams, 90-62, with 2:26 left in regulation.
Maxie Esho paced CLS with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists while Stephen Hurt churned out 19 markers and 9 boards.
Alab will travel to Indonesia on Sunday, December 16, for an immediate rematch with the Knights.
Alab Pilipinas 94 – Balkman 33, Ramos 20, Parks 10, Domingo 6, Rosser 6, Alvano 5, Tiongson 4, Javelona 4, Urbiztondo 3, Torres 3, Alabanza 0, Rivero 0.
CLS Knights 67 – Esho 20, Hurt 19, Utomo 12, Brandon 7, Baskoro 3, Jawato 2, Wong 2, Panagan 2, Kurniawan 0, Hidayat 0, Nugroho 0.
Quarters: 23-14, 46-27, 74-67, 94-67.
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