MANILA, Philippines – The Zamboanga Valientes missed the playoff bus in the ASEAN Basketball League Invitational after a sorry 97-87 loss to the Singapore Slingers in Vietnam on Thursday, February 16.
Solid performances from former NBA players Renaldo Balkman and Mario Chalmers were not enough for the Valientes to beat the Slingers in the virtual do-or-die match for the last semifinal berth.
A win for Zamboanga would have seen it figure in a tie with Singapore at 8-6 for fourth place, with the Valientes owning the tiebreaker after beating the Slingers, 87-79, in their first meeting in January.
But Singapore held on and kept its campaign alive with a strong start in the fourth quarter powered by Kentrell Barkley, who erupted for a game-high 41 points on a 12-of-21 shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Zamboanga narrowed the gap to 74-77 early in the final period before the Slingers rode on a 10-0 blitz – with half coming from Barkley – to mount their largest lead of the game at 87-74.
Chanceler Gettys scored the other 5 points of the run.
The Valientes failed to make a significant comeback attempt the rest of the way as they witnessed their playoff hopes vanish into thin air.
Gettys dominated inside with 24 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals for Singapore, which enters the playoffs with a 9-5 record.
Balkman finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals in the loss as he fell short of his bid to lead Zamboanga to the semifinals after coming in as a replacement for Antonio Hester, who joined Magnolia in the PBA.
An ABL champion with Alab Pilipinas, Balkman helped keep the Valientes in the running by anchoring their back-to-back wins over the Louvre Surabaya and Hong Kong Eastern before they ultimately bowed to the Slingers.
Chalmers chalked up 19 points, 8 assists, and 4 steals, while Jeremy Arthur and James Kwekuteye chimed in 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Zamboanga.
The NS Matrix Malaysia, Saigon Heat, and Hong Kong complete the semifinal cast. – Rappler.com
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