THE Philippine Patriots bucked a third quarter rally of visiting Satria Muda BritAma to zoom past its rival, 78-68, in Game 1 of the 1st Asean Basketball League (ABL) Finals Friday night at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.

Import Gabe Freeman made a breakout performance while compatriot Jason Dixon delivered the defensive end to give the Patriots an early lead in the best-of-five championship series.

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Freeman, the prized former PBA best import, posted another smashing double-double performance with 39 points and 14 rebounds while Freeman scored his thirteenth double-double in fifteen outings with 13 points and 17 rebounds.

But Coach Louie Alas seemed not to be contented with his wards’ performance as the team struggled in the third canto, where the Indonesians forced the Patriots for turnovers highlighted by an 11-0 run.

“We were very inconsistent on the defensive end. We felt that we can win by outscoring them, it happened but we have to play better defense and we didn’t do that in this game. And we relied so much in our imports. We must avoid that in Game 2,” said Alas. “I’m happy but we can be happier.”

Nakeia Miller, the outspoken American reinforcement, led the charge for the Indonesian squad for a 56-50 score in the third canto with the help of local player Ronnie Gunawan.

The Patriots however rebounded and dictated the game in the pay off period as Freeman, Dixon, Rob Wainwright, and Erwin Sta. Maria turned the tables on the Indonesian squad.

Wainwright chipped in nine points while Sta. Maria added eight markers to extend the Patriots’ winning run at home to ten.

Game 2 is set at the Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday (February 17) as the Patriots guns for a sweep at home before heading to Jakarta for Game 3.

The scores

RP Patriots, 78 -- Freeman, 39, Dixon 13, Wainwright 9, Sta. Maria 8, Ybanez 5, Alacaraz 2, Espiritu 2, Baclao 0, Gaco 0, Coronel 0, Acuna 0.

Satria Muda BritAma, 68 -- Mille 22, Hartman 12, Wuysang 11, Gunawan 10, Sondakh 9, Achmad 3, Wijaya 1, Frihantono 0, Sitomobang 0.

Quarters: 23-19, 48-41, 60-58, 78-68.

(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)