By Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Sta. Rosa, Laguna)
8 p.m. – Alab Pilipinas vs Hong Kong
(Alab leads series 1-0)
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas goes for a sweep of defending champion Hong Kong Eastern and a berth in the the ASEAN Basketball League Finals tonight in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinal series at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Alab, which took Game 1 with a 98-94 road win Wednesday, expects to go through the wringer in the 8 p.m. home match as it tries to end Hong Kong’s title reign and reach the finals in just its second season in the regional league composed of nine teams mostly from the ASEAN region.
A victory puts Alab in a best-of-three title affair against either Thailand’s Mono Vampire or China’s Chong Son Kung Fu. Otherwise, the semis series return to Hong Kong for a deciding third game on Friday.
Focus will be on Alab import Renaldo Balkman, who led the Game 1 victory by setting an ABL playoff record 46 points while adding 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Balkman is likely to be a marked man as Hong Kong hopes to neutralize him with Fil-German Christian Standhardinger and American center Ryan Moss protecting the paint.
That may give opportunities for Justin Brownlee and Ray Parks Jr. to provide the support for Balkman. Parks scored 23 points in Game 1 while Brownlee almost had a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Coach Jimmy Alapag is also pinning his hopes on role players Lawrence Domingo, Paolo Javelona, Pamboy Raymundo and Josh Urbiztondo to also step up as they brace for another explosive showing from American guard Marcus Elliott and Thai-American Tyler Lamb.