SAN Miguel Alab Pilipinas opened its Asean Basketball League (ABL) title defense on a scary note, smothering the CLS Knights Indonesia, 94-67, on Sunday at the Sta. Rosa Multipurpose Sports Complex.
Renaldo Balkman put on a show as promised, leading the hot shooting Alab Pilipinas which jumped to a 46-27 lead by halftime and never looked back.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year anchored Alab on both ends in the first half, scoring 18 points while fellow Puerto Rican import PJ Ramos intimidated underneath in an inside-outside attack that left the Knights bewildered.
The visiting Indonesian side had no chance at all as Alab turned the heat even more in the final two quarters, leading by as many as 30, 78-48 early in the fourth quarter.
Alab also flexed their local talents as reigning local MVP Ray Parks led a solid support crew for their impressive reinforcements, as new faces Brandon Rosser, Caelan Tiongson and Ethan Alvano also left their imprints in the win.
"I'm pleased with the effort especially defensively. CLS is a team that can score in bunches but right from the start we were able to establish ourselves defensively," said Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag.
Balkman finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks as he picked up from what was a brilliant season last year.
Ramos,a former import of the KIA franchise in the PBA, was an immovable presence underneath, finishing with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while also changing a handful of shots in the paint.
Parks finished with 10 points as Lawrence Domingo and Rosser provided the energy off the bench by combining for 12 points
Tiongson had eight rebounds and seven assists as Alvano added seven assists as the new starting guard of the squad for Alab, who were among the teams that started the season late.
"It was a concern. Six games in, you're pretty much right into the bulk of the season but credit our guys. They've been working hard for the past few weeks," Alapag added.
Maxie Esho led the way for the now 1-4 Knights with 20 points and eight rebounds as Stephen Hurt added 19 points and nine boards.
Alab will now be travelling to Indonesia next Sunday for a rematch with the Knights.
ALAB PILIPINAS 94 – Balkman 33, Ramos 20, Parks Jr. 10, Domingo 6, Rosser 6, Alvano 5, Tiongson 4, Javelona 4, Urbiztondo 3, Torres 3, Alabanza 0, Rivero 0
CLS KNIGHTS 67 – Esho 20, Hurt 19, Utomo 12, Brandon 7, Baskoro 3, Jawato 2, Wong 2, Panagan 2, Kurniawan 0, Hidayat 0, Nugroho 0
Quarterscores: 23-14, 46-27, 74-67, 94-67