STA. ROSA, Laguna - San Miguel Alab Pilipinas sent defending champion Hong Kong packing with a 79-72 result on Sunday night at the Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex to book a ticket to the Asean Basketball League (ABL) finals.
The hosts put on a masterclass effort on the defensive end before unleashing a fiery three-point shooting display bridging the third and fourth period to break the game wide open and complete a two-game sweep of the second-seeded Hong Kong side.
Alab became the fifth Philippine team to make the ABL finals in the league's eight-year history. The last time a Philippine squad made the Finals, San Miguel Beer, led by Asi Taulava and a young June Mar Fajardo, swept the Indonesia Warriors in 2013.
Renaldo Balkman scored six straight points near the end of the third period before Ray Parks, Justin Brownlee and Pao Javelona hit consecutive three-pointers to cap off a 16-5 burst.
Before Eastern knew what hit it, Alab was comfortably ahead, 69-51 with 8:16 left.
Alab will now face the winner of the other Final Four pairing between Chong Son Kung Fu and Mono Vampire. Thailand's Mono currently leads top-seeded Chong Son, 1-0.
"I'm just thankful to have a great group of guys in my first head-coaching stint. These are guys with great character and work ethic, all of my players," said Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag.
"Then of course, you saw the impact of Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. We were dead last early in the season and they came in. That set us off. The whole environment of the team changed."
Brownlee finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks while Balkman added 21 points and 11 boards. But it was by no means an exclusive two-man show for Alab.
Ray Parks added a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds while Pao Javelona played pesky defense on Tyler Lamb while contributing 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The reigning heritage import MVP, Lamb finished with just eight points on 3-11 shooting.
Christian Standhardinger wrapped-up his season with Hong Kong with 16 points and 10 boards. Marcus Elliot led the erstwhile champs with 25 points.
SAN MIGUEL ALAB PILIPINAS 79 — Brownlee 22, Balkman 21, Parks 13, Javelona 11, Raymundo 6, Alabanza 4, Domingo 2, Hontiveros 0, Sumalinog 0, Urbiztondo 0.
HONG KONG EASTERN 72 — Elliott 25, Standhardinger 16, Moss 15, Lamb 8, Lee 4, Lau 3, Tang 1, Xu 0.
Quarters: 16-16, 37-32, 60-49, 79-72.