San Miguel Alab Pilipinas faced an early test in their ABL title defense and they took on the challenge head on to get their second win of the season.
The Philippines outlasted CLS Knights Indonesia in overtime, 88-80, Sunday at the GOR Basket Kertajaya, Surabaya.
Renaldo Balkman was once again superb, scoring 36 points on an efficient 17-for-27 shooting clip while adding 12 rebounds and four steals. Fellow World Import PJ Ramos also notched a double-double performance of 25 points and 11 boards.
Unlike their previous meeting where Alab came away with a dominant 27-point win, the Knights were determined to get the victory for the home crowd. They came alive in the last two quarters after being down by as much as 16 points early in the contest.
Veteran guard Wong Wei Long weaved his way through traffic and tied the game up at 75 apiece with 31 seconds left in regulation. The Knights made a huge defensive stop in the Alab’s last possession, sending the game into overtime.
But the extra session belonged to the defending champions.
Led by the endgame brilliance of Balkman, the Philippines outscored Indonesia, 13-5, in overtime. As the Knights settled for outside jumpers, the Puerto Rican reinforcement kept attacking the hoop.
A straightaway 3-pointer from Ray Parks followed by a layup by Balkman made it 84-78 with less than a minute remaining. After Wei Long hit a pair of free throws, Balkman sealed the game with another basket with 35 ticks left.
Alab managed to win the game thanks to their 46 percent shooting from the floor and their 46-36 rebounding edge. After hitting 14 triples in their first game, they cooled off from beyond the arc and hit only seven on Sunday.
The Knights did a better job defensively, as exhibited by the closely knit contest. They also capitalized on their free throws as they went 18-of-22.
Maxie Esho scored 30 points and pulled down eight rebounds while Montay Brandon tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas are now 2-0 and will be tested again when they go up against the Formosa Dreamers who are 6-1 on December 21. The 2-5 CLS Knights meanwhile will face the still-winless Wolf Warriors this Wednesday.