MANILA, Philippines – The Zamboanga Valientes suffered their second heartbreaker in as many days in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Invitational as the NS Matrix Malaysia pulled off an 86-82 heist at the OCBC Arena in Singapore on Saturday, January 7.
Former NBA G League player Amir Williams led the comeback win from 15 down in the first quarter, 9-24, with a 22-point, 15-rebound double-double, while Malaysia national team member Chun Hong Ting scored 6 of his 17 points in the crucial 9-0 swing from down 74-80 late in the fourth quarter.
Zamboanga import Ryan Smith paced the sorry loss with 20 points, 14 boards, and a plus-minus of +25 in just 25 minutes, while former PBA import Antonio Hester continued his double-double streak with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Ex-San Beda star James Kwekuteye led the Valientes locals with 15 points on a 5-of-17 clip, 5 rebounds, and a game-high 5 steals, but ultimately got ahead of himself after firing and missing a contested turnaround jumper with 14 seconds left in the shot clock and 23 left total in the game.
Yi Hou Wong then left the door open for a Zamboanga tie or lead with 15.3 ticks left in regulation after splitting his charities for the 84-82 lead.
Fil-Am guard Jeremy Arthur raced down the other end, got some space for a wide-open three, but his attempt missed, while former Japan B. League import Kemark Carino, off the offensive rebound, rushed into a fading mid-range jumper that only caught air.
National team veteran Tian Yuan Kuek then corralled the miss with 1.5 seconds left and calmly sank the ensuing free throws for his only points of the game, setting the final score.
Arthur only shot 6-for-21 in the loss to end up with 13 points, while Carino finished with 2 points, 5 rebounds, and a brutal -30 in the four-point loss.
Zamboanga will have one last shot to end the pocket tournament on a winning note with its third game in three days against host team Singapore Slingers on Sunday, January 8, 6 pm.
Malaysia 86 – Williams 22, Ting 17, Glass 17, Wong 13, Hiew 6, Ooi 6, Iloka 2, Kuek 2, Teo 0, De 0.
Zamboanga 82 – Smith 20, Hester 17, Kwekuteye 15, Arthur 13, Lingganay 5, Cawaling 5, Amores 3, Carino 2, Bernardo 2, Chan 0, Belorio 0, Cadiz 0.
Quarters: 18-24, 43-49, 68-68, 86-82.