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Nanhai seals final outright semis berth, top seed with second half blast at Eastern

By Ivan Saldajeno

LOS BAÑOS--Nanhai clinched not just the last outright semifinal berth in the ABL playoffs but also the top seed with an 88-77 rout of Eastern at the Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong in the final game of the regular season on Wednesday night.

The Kung Fu recovered from a slow start as they limited the Long Lions to just two triples the entire game.

Looking to lock the top seed at home after notching an outright semis seat on Sunday, Eastern turned to its defense in the first quarter, limiting Nanhai to only seven points even as the team held world import Anthony Tucker to just a free throw in the first half, converting the charity in the waning moments of the second period.

However, Tucker took over in the second half, exploding for 28 of the Kung Fu's 56 points in the final 20 minutes as they stole the lead and eventually pulled away from the Long Lions.

Tucker finished with 29 points on six triples, enough to overtake Matt Wright for the ABL single-season record in three-pointers. Tucker also had one rebound, five assists, and two steals.

Justin Howard added 24 points, 22 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.

Tyler Lamb's 30 points was not enough for Eastern as the team will settle for the second seed.

In the process, Alab Pilipinas slipped to the third seed, putting the team in a quarterfinal showdown with sixth-seeded Saigon.

Box Scores:

Nanhai 88-Tucker 29, Howard 24, Tiongson 12, McKinney 11, Tian 8, Luo 2, Kamiran 2, He 0, Mai 0

Eastern 77-Lamb 30, Elliott 20, Standhardinger 12, Moss 11, Lee 4, Xu 0, Lau 0, Tang 0, Wu 0

Quarterscores: 7-22, 32-39, 58-54, 88-77

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