Gray nets game-winning block as Alab survives late HK rally
MANILA, Philippines – Alab Pilipinas ended its ASEAN Basketball League road trip on a high note with a nail-biting 77-76 win over Hong Kong Eastern at Southorn Stadium on Thursday, January 23.
Fil-Am guard Jeremiah Gray once again showed his defensive wares as he blocked Jon Siu’s game-winning triple as time expired after Alab import Nick King blew an inbound pass in the last possession.
It was a much-needed stop on Siu, as well, after the local swingman drained back-to-back triples in the final 4:35 of regulation to give Hong Kong its first lead at 72-71.
Both teams then struggled to buy a bucket before King gave the lead back to the Philippine team with a layup in the final 67 ticks for the 77-76 lead.
“I thought we missed some shots in the second half,” said head coach Jimmy Alapag after the game.
“I thought they turned up the pressure defensively and they got rolling offensively and became a battle of the second half. It’s never easy to win a game on the road in the ABL.”
It was a completely different story for Alab in the first half, however, as they erected an 18-point lead, 37-19, en route to a 45-30 gap by intermission.
Hong Kong then erupted with a 23-7 run to start the 3rd as it inched within 3, 53-56, at the 2:54 mark. Brandon Costner then drained two triples to beat the 3rd quarter buzzer and to tie the game up, 63-all, at the start of the final frame.
With the crucial win in the bag, Alab Pilipinas heads back home for a game against top-seeded Mono Vampire at the Caloocan Sports Complex on Sunday, January 26.
The bounce-back victory moves the 6-3 (67%) Alab past the 9-5 (64%) Fubon Braves for 2nd place behind the 8-3 Thai-based Mono squad.
King led the way for Alab despite the late blunder with 24 points and 7 rebounds on a 9-of-18 shooting while new import Prince Williams added 14 markers on a 3-of-4 shooting from downtown.
Fil-Am playmaker Jason Brickman only mustered 2 points on a cold 1-of-9 clip but dished out a season-high 16 assists while the heroic Gray chipped in 11 markers, 5 boards, 5 dimes and 3 big blocks.
Raley-Ross carried Hong Kong with a game-high 33 points on a 12-of-32 shooting while Costner added 19 markers on a 7-of-25 clip.
Alab Pilipinas 77 – King 24, Williams 14, Deguara 12, Gray 11, Vigil 5, Heading 3, Brickman 2, Domingo 2, Rosser 2, Caracut 0.
Hong Kong 76 – Raley-Ross 33, Costner 19, Holyfield 13, Siu 8, Guinchard 2, Ng 1, Xu 0.
Quarters: 23-14, 45-30, 63-60, 77-76.