All 10 teams in the ABL have now tasted defeat as defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas lost a tight one on the road, 72-71, against the Westports Malaysia Dragons, Wednesday night at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Powered by the spirited effort of Jonathan Wong, Westports Malaysia played the part of the underdog perfectly. They kept the game close and ugly at times to have the opportunity to steal it in the end game. The Dragons did not allow Alab to unleash their full offensive arsenal as they focused on their defense throughout the match.
The ploy was simple for Westports Malaysia’s coaching staff: allow Alab’s talented imports to get their numbers and stay home on the locals. It worked brilliantly as Renaldo Balkman had 31 points and 14 rebounds while PJ Ramos had 16 points and 11 rebounds but no Filipino local scored more than six points, which is night and day compared to their numbers in their last win against the Wolf Warriors.
The result in the balance in the final minutes of the game, Wong started his heroics when he banked in a triple to give the Dragons a 68-67 lead. Another local then chipped in as Loh Shee Fai extended their lead to three on the next play.
Alab’s imports scored back-to-back baskets to reclaim the lead 71-70 but Wong was not finished yet as he scored on a layup against the tough defense of Caelan Tiongson. Alab was not even able to put up a game-winning attempt as Ethan Alvano turned it over on their final play.
It was an upset of epic proportions not just because of the records of both teams but also because Westports Malaysia, like Alab, played with only two imports as Winston Shepard did not suit up for the game.
Nnanna Egwu had another solid performance with 15 points and nine rebounds while Chris Eversley only managed 12 points on an atrocious 5 of 23 clip from the field. Luckily for them, Wong played his best game in the ABL thus far.
The guard only averages 5.4 points in their first five games but dropped 21 points on 26 shots. Loh was more efficient with his scoring as he finished with 12 points on only six shots.
It was a frustrating performance for the defending champions as the bad luck they suffered on offense made them play lackluster defense as well because of their frustration. Tiongson added six points for Alab while Ray Parks and Lawrence Domingo added a combined 10 markers.
Largeley missing were their two stars against the Wolf Warriors in Alvano and Josh Urbiztondo as the combined for only two points and 1 of 10 shooting from the field.