San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will look to barge into the ABL Finals and dethrone the defending champs, as they challenge Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team in Game 2 of their semifinals matchup this Sunday at the Sta. Rosa Multi Purpose Complex in Laguna.
Coming off a thrilling 98-94 victory in Game 1 on the road in Hong Kong, Alab Pilipinas has Eastern on the ropes, needing only one more win to cement their entry to the big dance.
Renaldo Balkman put up a historic 46-point Game 1 performance, setting a new record for most points scored in a playoff game. He was 18-of-27 from the field, simply relentless in his attack on the frontcourt of Eastern as he used his size and strength to bully both Ryan Moss and Christian Standhardinger. He also stuffed the stat sheet with 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. Balkman will be looking for an encore for Game 2.
Reigning Local MVP Ray Parks also was a big contributor for the Philippine squad, tallying a double-double of 23 points and 10 boards. Parks was doing work on both ends of the floor as he was tasked to shadow the versatile Tyler Lamb on defense.
However, Hong Kong Eastern is no stranger to adversity. As early as the ABL Finals last year, they went down 0-1 to the Singapore Slinger before eventually taking care of business and winning three straight games.
The defending champions will have to rely on their big guns Tyler Lamb and Marcus Elliott to carry them to a victory on the road. Lamb was phenomenal in Game 1 with an efficient 32-point output. Elliott meanwhile finished with a triple-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. The only sour part of Elliott’s game was he was 7-for-23 shooting clip. If Hong Kong wants to survive and force a deciding third game, they’ll need Elliott to shoot better.
On the defensive end, Hong Kong has to have a better game plan in stopping Balkman. Granted it was only the first time to see the Alab World Import up close, they have to adjust as soon as possible. Moss, the primary defender of Balkman, will have to stay out of foul trouble to help his team.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will be riding the momentum of their first win of the season against Hong Kong Eastern. Will they punch their ticket to the Finals or will the defending champs extend their season and send it back to Hong Kong?