San Miguel Alab Pilipinas stayed in the hunt for a top two finish in the ABL Playoffs, dismantling the
CLS Knights 84-67 inside the Caloocan Sports Center.
Entering the contest with a 12-6 card, Alab Pilipinas needed to win this contest in order to get within the magic number of 14 wins. They also needed to hope for some luck to favor them depending on the fortunes of the other teams on top of the standings. With a strong defensive effort that limited the Knights to only 34% shooting from the field, they got half the job done.
Leading the way for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas was reigning Local MVP Ray Parks Jr, who had a game high 21 points on 8/15 shooting, to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Parks’ splendid play made up for the second half absence of World Import Renaldo Balkman, who went down with what was reported to be a high ankle sprain after colliding with a defender in the tail end of the second quarter.
Balkman exited the game with an efficient 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. While Alab struggled at times on offense without him in the second half, they more than made up for it on the other side. Only two players finished in double figures for the Knights, led by World Import Brian Williams’ 19 points and 18 rebounds. Fellow import Shane Edwards tallied 17 points and 8 rebounds.
The missing piece was reigning Heritage Import of the Week Freddie Lish. After torching the Westports Malaysia Dragons for 28 points in the Knight’s victory, Lish was silent with only 2 points on 1/8 shooting from the floor. Lish saw a plethora of defenders scramble to deny and blitz him, as a result his offensive production was limited throughout the contest.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ Justin Brownlee tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in another well-rounded effort for the home squad. Playing already without Robbie Celiz and Josh Urbiztondo before the Balkman injury, the team showed it’s depth with several players stepping up, led by Lawrence Domingo’s near double-double of 7 points and 12 rebounds. Paolo Javelona had his first start of the season, and he responded with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Free throws by Williams would get the Knights to within 9 points at the 8:54 mark of the 3rd quarter. But a 15-4 run by Alab Pilipinas highlighted by triples from Brownlee and Dondon Hontiveros would give the home team a 24 point lead, the biggest of the game. The Knights would be unable to threaten Alab Pilipinas for the remainder of the second half.
The victory pushes San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ record to 13-6, while the Knights fall to 5-14. The two teams will meet on Sunday in their regular season finale, also in the Philippines.