Bruised, bloodied yet unrelenting.
A short-handed San Miguel Alab Pilipinas side left it all on the floor of the Changhua County Stadium, only to succumb to Lee Hseuh Lin and the Formosa Dreamers, 73-72, in their ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Season 9 clash Sunday in Taiwan.
In another tournament nail-biter, both squads traded daggers in the final minute of a ballgame that saw Alab climb out of a 15-point third quarter hole.
With 39 seconds left, Renaldo Balkman scored on a runner over Formosa’s Tevin Glass to give Alab a 69-68 advantage. Hsueh Lin Lee would answer back 18 seconds later with a long two to give the lead back to the home team.
With six seconds left, Alab rookie Ethan Alvano broke free from defender Kenneth Chien to knock in a booming three-pointer to give his team a 72-70 edge. With a timeout left, Formosa coach Dean Murray mapped out a game-winner of a play which once again featured the cold-blooded Dreamers team captain Lee.
WHAT AN ENDING!!!#RiseTo9reatness
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With Alvano taken out of his defensive position by a ball screen from Glass, Lee launched a high-arching three over the outstretched arms of Caelan Tiongson with a second remaining in the match, sealing the victory for Formosa. With the win, the Dreamers avenged an 86-72 defeat to Alab from three weeks ago held in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Glass and Malcolm Miller combined for 37 points for Formosa. Balkman led the way for Alab with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tiongson and Alvano chipped in 15 and 11 markers respectively.
Alab Pilipinas, the defending ABL champions, took the hosts to the limit despite missing the services of world import Peter John Ramos and reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Bobby Ray Parks Jr. in the crucial stretches of the game.
Replays showed that Ramos had his left eye poked by Glass, which the referees failed to call as a foul. A furious Ramos charged to the officials which resulted to two technical fouls and an automatic ejection for the Puerto Rican center at the 8:28 mark of the second quarter.
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Defending in transition, Parks was a recipient of an elbow from Formosa’s Malcolm Miller with 6:27 remaining in the third period. The blow resulted to a deep cut across the forehead of the Alab team captain, who failed to return to the floor for the rest of contest.
Formosa hikes their win-loss card to 8-4 for solo third place, while Alab drops to 6-2 for a share of the top spot with the Macau Black Bears.
The Jimmy Alapag-mentored Alab Pilipinas quintet returns to action on January 18 in a home game against the Black Bears, set to be played inside the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Meanwhile, the Dreamers visit the CLS Knights of Indonesia on January 16.
Formosa Dreamers (73) – Glass 24, Miller 13, Chen 11, Lee 7, Chien 6, Wu 6, Chen 4, Cheng 2,
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas (72) – Balkman 27, Tiongson 15, Alvano 11, Domingo 7, Parks Jr. 5, Ramos 5, Javelona 2, Urbiztondo 0, Rosser 0, Torres 0
By quarters: 19-14, 39-28, 57-48, 73-72
Photos from the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Facebook page