MANILA, Philippines – The Westports Malaysia Dragons successfully defended their home floor after a stunning 72-71 win over defending ABL champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, January 9.
The Dragons prevented a losing skid and rose to 3-3 in the standings while Alab suffered its first loss after 5 straight wins to start the season.
Jonathan Wong came up clutch in the game's waning moments and led Malaysia with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Nnanna Egwu anchored the home squad with 15 markers and 9 boards in the hard-earned win.
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Balkman did the heavy lifting with 31 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks as his local support went cold on the road. Towering giant PJ Ramos chipped in his fair share in the tough loss with 16 markers, 11 boards and 5 assists.
New Alab local Caelan Tiongson buried a three just a minute into the 4th quarter to put Alab up by 6, 59-53. However, the Dragons home squad slowly crept closer with key stops and inched within one, 62-63, off a Shee Loh hook shot midway through the period.
Malaysia completed its comeback effort exactly at the two-minute mark with a long banking triple from Wong to put them up one, 68-67.
The Dragons then took advantage of a missed Ramos layup with a crucial score on their own end courtesy of Loh, 70-67, prompting Alab coach Jimmy Alapag to call for time with 1:43 left in regulation.
However, after a quick Balkman bucket, 69-70, off the timeout, the Dragons sputtered out with a costly turnover at the 40-second mark, helping Alab regain the lead off an easy Ramos layup, 71-70.
Not giving up, Wong again slithered past the Alab defense for the go-ahead bucket, 72-71, off the timeout.
The champs had one last chance to snatch back the game but rookie point guard Ethan Alvano fired off an errant pass straight out of bounds with just 0.6 on the game clock.
All Malaysia had to do was inbound the ball as they held on towards a stunning win. – Rappler.com