By Kevin Estrada
STA. ROSA, LAGUNA — San Miguel Alab Pilipinas showed why they are the more fiery team in the ASEAN Basketball League, but not before surviving a late fightback by the Saigon Heat 82-75 Sunday evening.
After leading by as much as 23 in the entire game, Alab saw its huge lead nearly gone down the drain in a one-way affair, but got their bearings just in time to repulse the league’s cellar dwellers to go solo second at 9-5, a game behind Thailand’s Mono Vampire.
Nick King lead the hosts with a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds, with behemoth San Deguara adding 15 markers and 7 boards and Jeremiah Gray who had 13.
Alab’s all-around dominance in virtually almost everything in the game was nearly overshadowed by their sloppy ball handling, with Saigon scoring 19 points off the hosts’s 20 turnovers.
Jason Brickman was held to single digits for the second straight game as he only scored just five points, yet he compensated it with his trademark passing game by dishing out 14 assists.
Right from the opening tip, Alab came out with guns blazing on all cylinders in the first half, using multiple scoring runs to put them up by 19 at the break, in which it peaked at 23, 60-37 when Gray threw down the flush to the delight of the crowd with 5:58 remaining in the third canto.
However, their overconfidence became a spark for Saigon who brought in a league minimum of ten players on their road trip, as Sam Thompson showed his flaming form that gave them a huge win away in Malaysia two days ago.
The former Ohio State standout exploded for 22 of his game-high 32 as he nearly put them back in the game all by himself, when he instigated a 9-0 run to pull the Heat to within four with 40.7 remaining on his pair of free throws.
However, they could not breach that barrier in the final frame, as Alab broke Saigon’s press in the very next possession and confirmed their character-building win with Sam Deguara’s dagger slam with 31.5 ticks remaining.
SAN MIGUEL ALAB PILIPINAS 82 — King 26, Deguara 15, Gray 13, Heading 9, Domingo 6, Brickman 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Williams 2, Vigil 2, Rangel 0, Aban 0
SAIGON HEAT 75 — Thompson 32, Taylor 15, White 10, Tran 7, Young 5, Dierker 2, Nguyen 2, Dinh 2
Quarter scores: 25-15, 50-31, 71-54, 82-75
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Photo courtesy of Asean Basketball League