HONG Kong Eastern left defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas reeling on the ropes after a 90-88 win to open their 2019 Asean Basketball League (ABL) quarterfinal playoff on Friday night at Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.
Bobby Ray Parks left a potential game-tying basket a tad short at the buzzer at the end of a disappointing loss that saw the Philippine side blow a 15-point third-quarter lead and surrender homecourt edge in the best-of-three series.
O'Darien Bassett found an open Lau Tsz Lai for a booming three-pointer with 29.6 seconds left that put the visitors up, 88-86. An Ethan Alvano miss led to a Marcus Elliott basket that extended the lead to four, 90-86 with 13.9 ticks remaining.
Renaldo Balkman pushed Alab closer with an undergoal stab in the last 10.6 seconds, and the Philippine squad forced a backcourt violation on the succeeding HK possession to get a shot at salvaging the match.
But Parks, still nursing a right ankle injury, went way short in his last shot.
Hong Kong Eastern, which stared at a 60-45 deficit in the third period before storming back with a 16-2 blast to get to within one, 62-61, was led by the 29 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals of Bassett.
Elliott added 22 points, eight boards, and five assists, while Michael Holyfield got a double-double of 14 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks.
Balkman carried Alab with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, as PJ Ramos got 17 points, seven boards, and four dimes for Alab, which faces a must-win game on Wednesday at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai.
Caelan Tiongson chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds while Parks got 10 for the second-seeded Alab, which has now lost its last five games -and six of its last eight.
HONG KONG EASTERN 90 -- Bassett 29, Elliott 22, Holyfield 14, Lau 9, Xu 8, Siu 5, Lee 3, Chan 0.
SAN MIGUEL ALAB PILIPINAS 88 -- Balkman 30, Ramos 17, Tiongson 13, Parks 10, Alvano 8, Rosser 7, Javelona 3, Urbiztondo 0, Sumalinog 0.
Quarters: 22-23, 36-44, 63-66, 90-88.