The Formosa Dreamers needed a big shot in the end game against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and an unlikely hero in Lee Hsueh Lin emerged to power the home team to a 73-72 victory against the defending champions, Sunday night at the Changhua County Stadium.
Lee, who was averaging a measly 1.7 points in their past games, had seven points in the game, scoring five in the final 30 seconds to help the Dreamers level the season series against Alab.
Playing their third game in five days (away-home-away), Alab started out flat in the first quarter against the defense of Formosa. The defending champions only put up 14 points with Ray Parks being the only Filipino local to score a basket.
Things turned sour for Alab in the second after they lost big man PJ Ramos to ejection. In the opening minutes of the period, Tevin Glass swiped up in an attempt to steal the ball from Ramos. However, he accidentally scratched Ramos’ face, causing blood to drip on the side of his face.
The behemoth voiced out his frustrations at the referees who did not call a foul on the play. Ramos did not stop after the first technical foul so he was given another one for an automatic ejection. He was alone in getting penalized as Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag was also whistled for a technical foul.
Formosa took control of the match at that point as they quickly built a 10-point lead 27-17. As they were missing an import in Will Artino, it was huge for the Dreamers to take Ramos out of the game as he was a matchup nightmare for them.
Alab was not able to make a move on Formosa until the fourth quarter when rookie guard Ethan Alvano started to heat up from the outside. He made a triple early in the period and made another one with 4:13 left to bring Alab within two, 66-64.
In the tail end of the contest, back to back baskets from Caelan Tiongson and Renaldo Balkman gave the Philippine team a 69-68 lead.
Lee made a counter jumper but Alvano hit his third triple of the fourth on the other side for a 72-70 Alab lead.
This would serve as the perfect setup for Lee’s heroics as he rose over the defense of Tiongson to nail the game-winner. With no timeouts remaining, Alab had to rely on a long inbound, which was stolen by Tevin Glass to preserve the victory.
Glass led his team with 24 points, nine rebounds, and four steals while fellow import Malcolm Miller only had 13 markers on 6 of 22 shooting from the field. Luckily for the two, Lee stepped up to provide the points when their squad was in desperate need.
Balkman led Alab with 27 points and 16 rebounds while Tiongson added 15 points and 13 rebounds. The defending champions could have used some help from Parks but he only had five points on 1 of 7 shooting. Ramos, who played less than eight minutes in the game, finished with five points and five turnovers.
With the win, Formosa are now tied with Saigon for the second and third spots with identical 8-4 win-loss tallies while Alab is still on top of the team standings at 6-2.