HO CHI MINH CITY – San Miguel Alab Pilipinas barged into Vietnam and extinguished the fire out of Saigon Heat, 96-85, to book its ticket to the Asean Basketball League semifinals on Saturday at the CIS Arena.
Not even the hostile crowd and some questionable calls in the second half could stop the visiting side from continuing its mastery over Saigon, as they led by as many as 15 points in the second half after a tightly contested battle in the first two periods.
Playing a top heavy squad in Saigon, the biggest difference turned out to be the locals for Alab with Lawrence Domingo leading the attack.
The 6-foot-5 Domingo came off the bench to score 21 points on an ultra-efficient 9-10 shooting coupled with his energy down low and on the defensive end.
Renaldo Balkman also finished with 21 points while adding 12 rebounds as Justin Brownlee finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.
The Philippines will now take on Christian Standhardinger and the Hong Kong Eastern team on Wednesday in their maiden semifinals appearance.
Getting a big boost from their home crowd, the Heat looked confident at the beginning, keeping in step with the third-seeded Alab and even taking the lead early in the second quarter.
The game was last tied at 40 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter, but back-to-back dunks by Domingo and Brownlee pumped life into Alab Pilipinas heading into the break.
They never looked back since.
Domingo and Brownlee continued to make damage for Alab in the third before the returning Josh Urbiztondo made his presence felt by hitting two three pointers early in the fourth to douse cold water on every Saigon attempt at a comeback.
Pao Javelona also had a solid outing for the Philippines as he finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists while Ray Parks shrugged off a bad shooting night to finish with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a block.
Akeem Scott led the Heat with 22 points whie Maxie Esho chipped in 20. Fil-American Mikey Williams was held to just six points on 2-6 shooting.
SAN MIGUEL ALAB PILIPINAS 96 — Balkman 21, Domingo 21, Brownlee 18, Javelona 11, Parks 10, Raymundo 6, Urbiztondo 6, Hontiveros 3, Celiz 0, Sumalinog 0.
SAIGON HEAT 85 — Scott 22, Esho 20, Morgan 17, Arnold 14, S. Nguyen 6, Williams 6, H. Nguyen 0, To QT 0.
Quarters: 28-27, 46-42, 73-59, 96-85.