Hong Kong Eastern’s deadly combination of Sam Deguara and new World Import Michael Holyfield put an emphatic end to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ winning streak with an 88-83 victory on Wednesday night at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai.
Deguara scored 18 points and collected a whopping 31 rebounds to lead Hong Kong. The 7-foot-5 behemoth was one board away from tying the ABL record set by former Indonesian import Brian Williams. Holyfield, who is listed at 6-foot-11, came in to replace the injured O’Darien Bassett. He was Deguara’s partner in crime as he tallied 19 points and 20 rebounds. The two Eastern big men were responsible for 51 of the team’s 57 total rebounds.
“I didn’t know how the game was going to be,” Deguara humbly said about his dominating performance. “[I’ve] been working since last [game]. Shows on the court – the work on the side. I didn’t expect nothing. I did my best to stay focused till the last minute to help the team stay focused too.”
Hong Kong led by as much as 14 points in the first quarter, imposing its will on the opposition. Just when things looked bleak for the Philippine squad, two-time Local MVP Ray Parks took it upon himself to try to will his team to victory. Parks put on an offensive clinic and scored 29 points on 10-of-17 shots while adding five rebounds and three assists.
Alab did not go down without a fight as they had a chance to steal the game in the closing moments. A Parks stepback 3-pointer breathed new life to the visiting team, giving them a 72-71 lead. After a layup from Caelan Tiongson and another triple from Parks, Alab was able to enjoy a six-point advantage with six minutes left. But Hong Kong countered with a pair of long bombs courtesy of Marcus Elliott and Lee Ki to tie the game at 77 apiece. Eastern went on to outscore Alab, 11-6 in the final five minutes, capped off by clutch free throws from Elliott to seal the win.
Deguara and rest of Eastern took full advantage of the absence of Alab’s 7-foot-3 center PJ Ramos who was out due to food poisoning.
With the win, Hong Kong avoided a season series sweep against the Philippines. More importantly, it halted the defending champions’ run of seven straight wins.
“I think confidence-wise, yes,” Deguara said about the impact of finally getting a win against Alab. “[It’s a] learning process for the team and individually.”
Hong Kong Eastern improve to 12-9 while San Miguel Alab Pilipinas suffer their third loss in 16 games.