by JONAS TERRADO
Game Tomorrow (Stadium 29, Bangkok)
4:30 p.m. – Mono Vampire vs Alab Pilipinas
(Series tied 1-1)
STA. ROSA, Laguna – Renaldo Balkman refused to be dejected with the blown chance of taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the ASEAN Basketball League after San Miguel Alab Pilipinas suffered a 103-100 loss to Mono Vampire Wednesday at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex here.
Alab had difficulty containing 7-foot-5 center Sam Deguara, who overcame foul trouble by converting a three-point play with a minute left that put the club from Thailand in front for good, while seeing a hobbling Justin Brownlee miss two three-pointers in the dying seconds.
Both teams will break their 1-1 tie tomorrow afternoon at the Stadium 29 in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It ain’t over yet. Trust me, it ain’t over yet,” Balkman said after finishing with 37 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
“We can’t hold our heads down. We gotta keep positive, keep focus on our goal,” added the former New York Knicks cager, who before the game was named co-Defensive Player of the Year. “It’s gonna be another game on Saturday, and in our eyes its’ 0-0 right now. We gotta go there and win a game too.”
Alab coach Jimmy Alapag praised Mono for overcoming repeated rallies by the Filipino club and the boisterous home crowd with Fil-American guard Jason Brickman playing with precision, Filipino guard Paul Zamar making key plays and ex-PBA import Mike Singletary knocking down key shots.
Brickman had 15 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, Zamar had 12 points despite a 2-of-11 shooting and Singletary made 26 points, complementing Deguara’s big night of 30 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks.
“They were very sharp right from the start,” Alapag said. “I thought we had a lot of lapses as a team in the first half. And everytime we made a mistake, they made us pay.”
Alapag and the rest of Alab are hoping to go to the Thai capital with a healthy Brownlee, who spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench due to an apparent cramps on his right leg. Alab was still determining at presstime his condition for Game 3.
“It was a pretty bad cramp so you couldn’t really move well. And at that point of the game, I don’t want to risk it further,” Alapag said of Brownlee’s injury. “We’re hoping and praying for the best that it is nothing more than that.”
Ray Parks, who was hailed as the Local Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, Brownlee shot 5-of-15 from the floor but still scored 14 points, and Josh Urbiztondo finally broke out of a shooting slump that began after his recovery from a hamstring injury with 14 points on four triples.