ALAB Pilipinas, pumped up by enthusiastic Dabawenyo fans, shocked top team Hong Kong Lions, 87-75, in their Asean Basketball League game Sunday, March 19, at the University of Southeastern Philippines Gym, Bo. Obrero, Davao City.
The win came on the heels of losing to Saigon Heat of Vietnam last February 6 at the Almendras Gym Davao City Recreation Center.
Carter Sampson sizzled with 20 points as James Thomas Hughes scored a double-double, drilling in 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to romp away with the best player of the game honors.
Robby Celiz added 17 as Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. had eight for Alab Pilipinas that secured the third spot of the final four teams that will advance to the semifinals.
Marcus Ryan Elliott, meanwhile, canned 22 baskets for the Lions as teammate Tyler Lamb chipped in 19 for a losing effort.
The Lions secured a nine-point advantage in the middle of the third frame but Alab tightened its defense with Hubalde forcing Elliott's back-to-back offensive fouls.
Hughes and Sampson, meanwhile, made quick work on the paint and followed up their teammates' missed baskets in the encounter that saw a series of deadlocks and lead changes.
"Masaya kami kasi kita nyo naman yung suporta ng crowd. Tulad nung last game na medyo dissappointed pero masaya kasi naibalik namin yung suporta nila. Gusto ko sa championship dito lalaruin sa Davao City (We're happy because you can see how the crowd support us. Unlike the last game where it was a little disappointing but we are happy because we were able to redeem their support. We want to play the championship here in Davao City)," head coach Ronald "Mac" Cuan said in an interview with SunStar Davao.
He added they had to tighten their defense down the stretch and let the three point shooters take the open shots.
"The whole week nag practice kami ng shooting pero sabi ko sa kanila let's just enjoy the game and work as a team, let's go back to that mentality," he added, saying he pushed the athletes to just enjoy the game.
Alab Pilipinas will next face Kaoshiung Truth on March 26 at the Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School.
Alab Pilipinas 82- Carter 20, Hughes 17, Celiz 17, Parks 8, Acuña 6, Cawaling 4, Hubalde 3, Fortuna 3, Mendoza 2, Domingo 2
Hong Kong Lions 75- Elliott 22, Lamb 19, Ki 12, Chan 8, Guinchard 6, Fong 6, Wu 2
Quarterscores: 23-25, 38-43, 55-54, 82-75
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 21, 2017.
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