Alab Pilipinas is one-win away in securing a slot in the finals of the 8th ASEAN Basketball league (ABL).
The Philippine team defeated the defending champions Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, 98-94, in order to grab the first victory in the Best-of-three semifinals series.
Import Renaldo Balkman gave a playoff record-breaking 46 points, along with 13 rebounds in order to lead Alab in recovering from a 13-point deficit, 4-17, in the first quarter of the game at Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong.
By the start of the game’s second half, Alab was leading by seven points, 50-43, and widened the score gap to 13 points, 75-62, in the end of the third quarter.
However, the Lions were persistent and was able to tie the score to 94-all with less than a minute left in the game.
Balkman and fellow import Justin Brownlee, who finished with 16 point and 12 rebounds, needed to score two free throws each in order to secure the win for the visitors.
Tyler Lamb scored 32 points, while Marcus Elliott finished with a triple double: 22 points, 10 rebound, and 11 assists, for the Hong Kong team that defeated Alab during their two previous encounters in the elimations.
Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who is set to join PBA after his stint in the ABL, also gave 18 points and 15 rebounds for the home team.
Alab and the Lions are set to face one another again on April 15 for the Game-2 of the semifinals series that will happen at Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.