San Miguel Alab Pilipinas began their title defense with a bang, defeating CLS Knights Indonesia, 94-67, last Sunday.
Returning World Import Renaldo Balkman paced Alab with 33 points and 11 rebounds. There were familiar faces for the Philippine squad but its new players also shared the spotlight. PJ Ramos, Caelan Tiongson, Ethan Alvano, and Brandon Rosser all provided solid minutes and wowed the home crowd.
The defending champions were last to make their debut, but they showed that they are still the team to beat this season.
The Philippines’ offense was clicking all-game long and ended up with a 48.1 shooting percentage. They also displayed their passing game with 33 assists.
The visiting Knights were limited to just 38.9 percent shooting and struggled to get their offense going. Maxie Esho led the way with 20 points but had to work for every single basket as he was guarded by defensive gem Caelan Tiongson.
Tiongson only had four points in his Philippines debut but he has accepted his role as an elite defender. He didn’t score a lot but contributed in other ways, collecting 8 rebounds and 7 assists. He was a plus-27 in the win. Esho needs to have a big game for the Knights while Tiongson will do what he can to try to slow down the World Import.
CLS managed to bounce back from its loss to the Philippines with an 80-75 victory against the Mono Vampire Basketball Club.
The Knights are now hoping to avenge their loss in the Philippines while the defending champions are looking for win number two.