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Alab finally nabs win in Sta. Rosa after OT thriller against Nanhai

By Ivan Saldajeno

STA. ROSA, Laguna--Alab Pilipinas finally broke the "Sta. Rosa Curse".

Alab won for the first time at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex after subduing Nanhai in overtime, 94-91, in their ABL clash on Wednesday night.

Justin Brownlee, who was checked in the first half especially with Caelan Tiongson doing a great job on defending him, scored the game's last four points as Alab completed a comeback from an early 11-point deficit to steal the win from the Kung Fu, who led for most of the game.

Nanhai looked to pull away early through a 10-0 run for a 21-10 lead late in the first quarter.

Alab answered with a 14-2 run blast spanning to the second quarter to the lead to one, 24-23.

The Kung Fu maintained control for most of the remainder of the regulation until the 3:11 mark of the fourth quarter when Alab launched a 10-2 run highlighted by three straight trey from Josh Urbiztondo to go up, 82-80, with 1:33 left in the period.

Alab, however, failed to put the game away in regulation as Mike McKinney made two free throws off an Urbiztondo foul to tie the game, 82-all, with 46.5 seconds and Justin Howard scored on an easy layup following a crucial turnover to cancel Brownlee's basket that gave the team the lead back.

With 8.9 seconds left and the game tied, 84-all, Brownlee still tried to give Alab the win, but Tiongson's defense forced him to a tough triple that rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.

The game went on a seesaw action at the start of the free basketball session, but a missed three from Anthony Tucker set up a chance for Brownlee, who made two free throws to give Alab the lead, 92-91, prior to the Tucker miss, to ice the game with 33.4 seconds left.

Brownlee, however, lost the ball after slipping to the floor, to give Nanhai a chance to steal the win only for Renaldo Balkman to disrupt the team's offense with a crucial that led to Brownlee's dagger layup at the final buzzer to the delight of the nearly full-house crowd.

Brownlee and Balkman each tallied 20 markers to backstop Ray-Ray Parks, who tallied 31 points of his own, for Alab, which lost its last three games here dating back to last season prior to this victory.

Balkman had a solid all-around game with 16 rebounds, six assists, six blocks, and three steals, while Brownlee, despite shooting only 7-of-27 from the field, had 11 boards and six dimes as well.

Howard and McKinney each scored 25 points for Nanhai, which only lost for the second time this season.

Box Scores:

Alab Pilipinas 94-Parks 31, Brownlee 20, Balkman 20, Urbiztondo 9, Domingo 8, Maierhofer 6, Celiz 0, Hontiveros 0, Javelona 0

Nanhai 91-McKinney 25, Howard 25, Tucker 24, Tiongson 11, Kamiran 6, Liu 0, He 0, Zhao 0, Luo 0

Quarterscores: 18-24, 39-47, 62-65, 84-84, 94-91

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