Acuña on fire from outside as Alab splits series with Saigon

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An ABL career-high for hot shooting Val Acuña as Alab splits season series with the Saigon Heat.
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--With hot hands and stifling defense, Alab Pilipinas nearly blew a double-digit third quarter lead but got its act in time to repulse an aggressive Saigon Heat to snap a two-game losing run away to split their season series last Friday night in Ho Chi Minh City's Canadian International School gym.

Val Acuña caught fire against the Vietnamese hosts to set a new ABL career-high 23 points on 7/12 clip from beyond the arc, one short of the league record by teammate Ray Parks for most triples in a single game, stepping up for the former two-time UAAP MVP who was limited to just four points, as Coach Mac Cuan's men retained their hold at third by improving at 9-6.

Sampson Carter backed up the former UE sniper with 19, with Lawrence Domingo the only other Alab cager scoring in double figures with 11 as James Hughes struggled to make his presence felt as he was hobbled by foul problems but he made up for it by posting 13 boards, 7 on the offensive end.

Lenny Daniel gave Alab defense fits for 22 markers, but the home side can't come closer to tying the game in the final frame to slump to 5-9 but were a half-game ahead of the Kaohsiung Truth.

Alab raced first from tip-off, with Acuña firing 8 of the team's first 11 points to get the upper hand till half time, 38-31.

After they raced to a 50-37 edge in the third, Saigon rallied to go within a basket, but Domingo and Acuña made timely baskets to still lead 59-52.

But buoyed by the boisterous CIS crowd, Saigon rallied to move within one, 65-66 thru Jordan Henriquez's split from the free throw line.

However, it was not their day in the office as Acuña drilled the dagger trey with three minutes left to suck the life out of the Heat's game, in which they avenge their setback to the same Saigon outfit last Sunday to even their season series at 2-2.

Alab will have to take a quick flight back to the country as they will open the Sta. Rosa Arena to the Malaysia Dragons this Sunday evening.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada