A CHANGE of imports worked wonders for Alab Pilipinas as it opened the year with an impressive 90-79 win over Wesports Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) on Wednesday night.
New imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman led a blistering fourth-quarter run that enabled the hosts to overcome a gritty stand by the Dragons before their home fans at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Brownlee scored 29 points to go ith eight assists, seven rebounds and two blocks in his Alab debut, coming just months after leading Ginebra to a second successive PBA Governors Cup championship.
On the other hand, Balkman had 17 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks in his first game on Philippine soil since being banned for life in the PBA for choking a teammate in 2013.
"It was just a collective effort from the team. The last week and a half have been tough for the team. We lost Okosa and we find out that Ivan Johnson is gonna be out for quite some time," said head coach Jimmy Alapag.
"I got to commend Renaldo and Justin. They just arrived this morning and it was just a great effort for them and also from our locals," he added.
Alab turned the tide by embarking on 21-3 run capped by a Balkman slam, turning a 60-63 deficit into a commanding 81-66 lead with a little over seven minutes left in the game.
The home team never let up from there and the closest Malaysia got was within 10 points before the locals did clean up duties for their second straight win after a horror 0-3 (win-loss) start to the season.
The Dragons on the other hand fell to 1-3.
Josh Urbiztondo paced all Alab locals with 13 points and nine assists while Robbie Celiz added 10.
Fil-Am heritage import Joshua Munzon led Malaysia with 21 points and nine boards.
Alab 90 - Brownlee 29, Balkman 17, Urbiztondo 13, Celiz 10, Parks 8, Domingo 6, Maierhoffer 4, Hontiveros 3, Javellona 0, Sumalinog 0, Alabanza 0, Raymundo 0
Malaysia Dragons 79 - Munzon 21, Marshall 17, West 16, Yeo 8, Kuek 4, Cabahug 0, Ng 0, Teo 0
Quarterscores: 23-13, 39-32, 68-63, 90-79