After suffering their first loss of the season, the defending champions came back with a vengeance.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas vented their frustrations against Hong Kong Eastern, coming away with an 87-75 victory, Friday, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Laguna, Philippines.
“I felt really bad about the game in Malaysia. We just wanted to start strong in this one,” said Alab coach Jimmy Alapag after his team endured a tough one-point loss against the Dragons last Wednesday.
The reigning ABL champions figured in a grind-it-out game versus Malaysia and fell victims to a game-winner from Jonathan Wong. On Friday, they were able to exert their brand of basketball and get back to their winning ways.
PJ Ramos enjoyed his best game so far with Alab with a superb showing of 31 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. He hurt Hong Kong in a number of ways, both from the perimeter and in the painted area.
“[The] guy’s something else,” beamed Alapag about their hulking big man. “It’d be hard to find someone his size with his skill. His ability to post, to shoot from three, you can’t foul him, and he’s just a great teammate.”
The 7-foot-3 Ramos established his dominance early after his counterpart, 7-foot-5 Samuel Deguara was called for three quick fouls in the opening quarter. Ramos and the rest of the Philippine squad capitalized the absence of the Hong Kong center and raced to a 44-32 halftime lead.
Despite Deguara reentering the ball game in the third quarter, Alab continued to pour it on behind the brilliance of Ramos and Ray Parks. A driving layup from Parks helped the Philippine squad build a 21-point lead late in the third canto which left Eastern reeling. Two-time Local MVP Parks, who only scored five points in his previous outing, was quick to remind the league that he’s still one of the best local scorers as he finished with 24 points, including four triples.
Eastern made one last effort to get back into the ball game in the fourth quarter behind the production of Deguara and fellow World Imports Marcus Elliott and O’Darien Bassett. Hong Kong got as close as nine points with less than three minutes remaining after Bassett connected on a pull-up 3-pointer. But Ramos answered with two timely buckets to push the Alab lead back to 13 points, 83-70, with less than two minutes left. After Deguara countered with a basket, Ramos put the icing on the cake on another Alab victory with a confident jumper.
Elliott provided Hong Kong with 20 points and five rebounds while Bassett added nine rebounds and seven assists, but struggled shooting the basketball as he ended up with just 19 points on 8-for-25 shooting. Deguara meanwhile had 14 points and nine boards and played with foul trouble for nearly the entire game.
Alab’s leading scorer Renaldo Balkman had a quiet outing of eight points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.
The do-it-all forward experienced slight pain in his ankle according to Alapag but assured that it was nothing serious.
“If we needed to, we could’ve put him back, but our guys played great,” the coach mentioned. Fortunately for the Philippines, Ramos and Parks picked up the scoring slack which allowed Balkman to not play extended minutes.
With the win, Alab continues to lead the league at 6-1 while Hong Kong settles for a 7-5 record.