Tanduay Alab Pilipinas welcomed the New Year with a bang as they came away with a resounding 90-79 win over the Westports Malaysia Dragons on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, Philippines.
New Alab imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman introduced themselves into the ABL by displaying their all-around skill and versatility.
Brownlee, who is no stranger to Filipinos having played in the local leagues for numerous occasions, flirted with a triple-double of 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Fellow newcomer Balkman had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Alab’s two reinforcements flew in earlier in the day but that didn’t seem to matter with their outstanding performances.
“Collective effort from everybody,” head coach Jimmy Alapag said proudly. “commend Renaldo and Brownlee, they just came in today.”
Interestingly, Brownlee and Balkman have had previous encounters with Alapag when the coach was still playing professionally in the Philippines.
“Great to have them on our side,” Alapag said with a smile. “They’re world class imports and I think that will give us a chance.”
With Brownlee and Balkman anchoring the attack, Alab enjoyed a lead as high as 16 points towards the end of the fourth period. The Philippines also capitalized on the Dragons’ 15 miscues, giving 19 points off of turnovers. They also shot efficiently from the field, registering 47 percent.
For Malaysia, they too welcomed their new imports for the season. Joshua Munzon seemed to not have missed a step since leaving the Dragons last year and came in to Wednesday’s primed and ready. He led the Dragons with 21 points, including four three-pointers. AJ West meanwhile had a double-double of 16 points and 22 rebounds.
After losing their first three games, the Philippine squad has now won back-to-back games for a 2-3 record. On the other hand, the Dragons now are 1-3 in the standings.
“We just have to grind through this early part of the season, our guys have been great at practice with their effort and focus,” Alapag said.