by Jonas Terrado
Game Saturday (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
8 p.m. – Saigon vs Alab Pilipinas
(Alab Pilipinas leads series 1-0)
Shorthanded San Miguel Alab Pilipinas relied heavily on its four top players to edge closer toward a spot in the semifinals with a 110-100 victory over the Saigon Heat Sunday night in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinal series in the ASEAN Basketball League at The Arena in San Juan.
Ray Parks Jr., world imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman and scrappy Fil-American Lawrence Domingo accounted for the chunk of Alab’s points in beating the Vietnamese squad for the third straight time this season while closing in on a spot in the semifinals against defending champion Hong Kong Eastern.
Alab will try to go for a sweep of the quarters on Saturday when the series shifts to Saigon’s home court at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City. A deciding third game, if necessary, is scheduled Wednesday at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Coach Jimmy Alapag’s team extended its mastery of Saigon despite missing Josh Urbiztondo, Rico Maierhofer and JR Alabanza to injuries.
Parks finished with 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, continuing his late-season form that has boosted his chances of winning a second straight Local Most Valuable Player award.
Brownlee had 22 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Domingo produced 18 points and six rebounds and Balkman posted 17 points, 20 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
American center Maxie Esho scored 42 points for the Heat in a losing effort as Jamaican guard Akeem Scott and Thai-American Moses Morgan combined for a 10-of-32 shooting despite 19 and 16 points, respectively.
ALAB PILIPINAS 110 – Parks 24, Brownlee 22, Domingo 18, Balkman 17, Hontiveros 8, Raymundo 7, Sumalinog 6, Javelona 5, Celiz 3.
SAIGON 100 – Esho 42, Williams 19, Scott 19, Morgan 16, T. Nguyen 3, Arnold 1.
Quarters: 30-24; 57-47; 90-72; 110-100.