ROB Celiz and JR Cawaling provided the spark as Alab Pilipinas turned back a hard-fighting Malaysia Dragons, 87-79, on Friday night at the Baliwag Star Arena in Bulacan to close in on the Asean Basketball League (ABL) leaders.
Alab star Ray Parks Jr. still shared scoring honors with import Sampson Carter with 15 points, but it was Celiz and Cawaling's production that enabled the home side to gain separation against a Dragon side that showed that it is much better than its woeful record.
Celiz and Cawaling each had 14 points, scoring most of them in the middle periods when Alab finally pulled away from the Dragons.
Alab's second successive win improved its record to 9-4, just half a game behind the Singapore Slingers and within reach of Hong Kong's league-best 8-2 record.
Kiwi Gardner had 30 points and Filipino-Am Joshua Munzon had 20 points for the Dragons.
Alab Pilipinas 87 – Carter 15, Parks 15, Hughes 14, Celiz 14, Cawaling 14, Domingo 8, Fortuna 3, Gavieres 2, Hubalde 2, Knuttel 0, Acuna 0, Thiele 0
Malaysia Dragons 79 – Gardner 30, Munzon 20, Spencer 17, Wong 4, Teo 4, Kuek 2, Ma 2, Yeo 0, Loh 0, Ting 0
Quarterscores: 20-15, 40-34, 67-57, 87-79