It was a different venue, yet the same result for the defending champions of the ASEAN Basketball League.
Bannered by splendid performances from Heritage Imports Tyler Lamb and Christian Standhardinger, Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team withstood another ferocious rally in the clutch by Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, picking up their fifth straight win in their first home game at the Southorn Stadium, 99-96.
Lamb was brilliant in leading the charge for Hong Kong, as he finished with a career-high 32 points on 12/21 from the field to go along with five three pointers knocked down.
Standhardinger provided ample support, finishing with a double-double performance of 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. His biggest contribution was two three pointers made all in the fourth quarter, helping Hong Kong stay in step with Alab Pilipinas.
The ending to this game was almost a mirror image of Hong Kong’s pulse-pounding win at the Mall of Asia during opening weekend of the ABL. Hong Kong had to wait with bated breath as Josh Uribztondo had an opportunity to tie the game with a triple, with Tanduay Alab Pilipinas trailing by three points with 11 seconds remaining in the game. But similar to their first matchup, The Fireball simply couldn’t get the crucial triple to fall, as he missed a wide open triple to seal their fate.
It was a disappointing finish for Alab, as they came out with a lot of aggression early on in the game, playing with a sense of desperation. They forced Hong Kong Eastern into 8 turnovers all in the first quarter, as the champions looked sluggish in their home debut.
Hong Kong would eventually get their bearings, staying within striking distance of Alab Pilipinas behind hot shooting of Lamb and local hotshot Li Kee. The two conspired to cover for a struggling Marcus Elliott, who finished with 6/17 shooting clip.
Alab Pilipinas would find success by pounding it in the paint and letting World Imports Ivan Johnson and Reggie Okosa feast inside. Johnson had a game high 32 points to go along with 9 rebounds, the highlight being a wild halfcourt shot that banked in at the first quarter buzzer. Okosa had 25 points and 13 rebounds in another well-rounded effort.
The fourth period was the highlight of the game, as both teams engaged in a shootout, trading clutch basket after basket. Alab opened up a five point lead behind a Johnson lay-up with 8:06 remaining, but Standhardinger stepped in and drained a triple to trim the deficit down to two. Okosa and Elliott would trade baskets, and the advantage in the game was in the balance seemingly the entire period.
Lamb would finally breakthrough for Hong Kong, as they got their first taste of the lead via a smooth layup with 3:07 left in the game.Both Elliott and Moss would chip in baskets, helping Hong Kong erect their biggest lead of the game, 96-88 with 1:24 remaining.
But Alab Pilipinas was not done fighting. Okosa nailed a triple, Ray Parks finished with a tough basket to bring down the deficit to 3, 96-93 with 47 seconds remaining. Lamb would score on another drive, which was quickly countered by another triple from Okosa. Li Kee would be tested at the foul line, but he could only split his charities. That opened up the opportunity for Urbiztondo once again to make a triple and send the game into overtime, but again it wasn’t meant to be.
With the victory, Hong Kong Eastern stays on top of the standings with an immaculate 5-0 card, while Tanduay Alab Pilipinas falls to 0-3. Both teams will go on the road in their upcoming games, as they each travel to Taiwan for the Dreamers’ home debut in Changhua Stadium, Changhua City. Alab Pilipinas gets a chance to pick up the first win of the season versus Formosa on December 16, with Hong Kong Eastern next up for the Dreamers on December 17.