After losing their last two games on the road, their home fans were a welcome sight for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas as they took out their growing frustrations on the hapless Saigon Heat, winning 126-100, Wednesday night at the USEP Gym in Davao.
With World Imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman firing on all cylinders and their locals chipping in whenever they can, there was no stopping Alab from securing their 12th win of the season to force a tie with Mono Vampire at the third spot, which also keeps their dream of making it straight into the semifinals still alive.
“We needed this game tonight after losing two straight,” said Balkman after the match. “Before the game we said we needed to play all out, play together, and play our game. Saigon is a great team but we came out stronger and played much harder and this is the result.”
The past couple of weeks have ben frustrating for Alab as they suffered a shocking loss on the road against the Westports Malaysia Dragons, breaking their eight-game winning streak. Then they also dropped a crucial game against Chong Son Kung Fu, which would have made them one of the favorites to make it into the Top Two. Instead, they’ll have to sweep their last two games at home against the CLS Knights Indonesia and hope that the results of the other games favor them.
Knowing that the Heat’s bench is suspect, Alab relied on theirs to be the difference in the game. Led by the double-digit scoring of Pamboy Raymundo and Paolo Javelona who combined for 24 points, Alab’s second unit blasted Saigon’s 47 to 22, which was basically the difference in the contest.
“Before the game, I said to myself that I got to get everybody going. And since we’re at home, that includes the fans,” Balkman explained. “If we have everybody going, we cannot be stopped.”
Balkman had 30 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the field but it was Brownlee’s hot start that gave Alab the momentum they needed as he finished with 24 points anchored on 6 of 7 shooting from the three-point range.
The Philippine team turned things around in the second quarter where they scored 39 points followed up with a 33-point third period. They did not even have to play their World Imports in the final quarter as the game’s result was long decided by then.
The final turn out broke a couple of records in the ABL. Alab Pilipinas recorded 126 points, which is the most scored in a single game in league history. This particular record has been broken twice already this season, first when Hong Kong Eastern scored 120 points back in December 17 and another time when the Saigon Heat scored 121 points on January 9.
The 18 three point shots made by Alab Pilipinas also tied a league record for most made in a game, another record earlier set this season by the Saigon Heat.
Saigon was led by Maxie Esho who had 24 points in the game while Filipino-American Michael Williams chipped in 19 in his first game in the Philippines.
Even though the Heat suffered a loss, they still received some good news at the end of the game as the CLS Knights Indonesia gave them a free pass to the playoffs by defeating the Westports Malaysia Dragons.