MANILA - As expected, new import Gabe Freeman lifted the Philippine Patriots to a pulsating 91-87 win over the Thailand Tigers last Sunday in the 1st Asean Basketball League First Conference at the Nimibutr National Stadium in Bangkok.

Despite not having a chance to practice with the Patriots, the 6’6” Freeman showed enough firepower to save the Patriots.

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Freeman arrived in Manila last Friday before joining the Patriots last Saturday.

He finished with 21 points, including the game’s first five points and two booming triples in the last two minutes, on top of 14 rebounds to help the Patriots snapped a two-game losing run.

“In a scale of 10, my performance today was only eight. Give me one more week to shape up and practice with the team and you’ll see the difference,” said Freeman, who replaced Brandon Powell.

With the victory, the Patriots’ 10th in 14 matches, the RP squad now has a strong chance of finishing the elimination round among the top two spots regardless of the outcome over their last game against the Brunei Barracudas on Sunday in Pasig.

The Patriots’ hope for the No. 1 spot in the Final Four got a big boost when the Kuala Lumpur Dragons stunned the No. 2 Singapore Slingers, 78-71, in Kuala Lumpur.

The Slingers fell to 8-5.

Freeman conspired with Rob Wainwright, Jason Dixon, Nonoy Baclao and Erwin Sta. Maria in a decisive breakaway to take the lead for good, 86-76.

“We have to have the kind of mentality if we want to win the championship. Thirty minutes of solid play is not enough, we have to play tough and smart for 40 minutes,” said Patriots coach Louie Alas.