ZAMBOANGA Valientes squandered an early 15-point lead to bow to NS Matrix Malaysia, 86-82, on Saturday in the Singapore Circuit of the 2023 ABL Invitational at OCBC Arena.
Zamboanga Valientes in ABL recap
James Kwekuteye could not give the Philippine side the lead as Jeremy Arthur and Kemark Carino also fumbled their shots in the final minute as they suffered their second consecutive defeat.
This loss wasted Ryan Smith's 20-point performance as the American import also collected 14 rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
His hot start allowed Zamboanga build a 24-9 advantage in the first quarter, but could not sustain that hot streak to drop to 1-2.
Kwekuteye got 15 points on 3-of-8 clip from deep, to go with five assists and two rebounds, but failed to convert on his go-ahead buckets in the final minute.
Antonio Hester added 17 points, 14 boards, and two dimes, while Arthur had 13 points and three rebounds in the loss.
The Valientes even held an 80-74 lead after a Kwekuteye three with 5:18 remaining, but the Malaysians responded with a 9-0 run to take an 83-80 lead and set up the frantic finish.
Kwekuteye scored on a putback to get to within two, but it proved to be the Filipinos' last hurrah, failing to find the bottom of the bucket as Kuek Tian Yuan and Wong Yi Hou were cool from the charity stripe to ice the game for NS Matrix.
Amir Williams powered the Malaysians with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks to reward Pinoy coach Jeff Viernes his second win in four games.
Zamboanga will try to end this slump against the Singapore Slingers on Sunday in its final game in this leg.
NS MATRIX 86 -- Williams 22, Glass 17, Ting 17, Wong 13, Ooi 6, Hiew 6, Kuek 2, Iloka 2, Ong 0, De 0, Teo 0.
ZAMBOANGA 82 -- Smith 20, Hester 17, Kwekuteye 15, Arthur 13, Lingganay 5, Cawaling 5, Amores 3, Carino 2, Bernardo 2, Belorio 0, Chan 0, Cadiz 0.
Quarters: 18-24, 43-49, 68-68, 86-82.