By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Renaldo Balkman made history on Wednesday night as he set the new ABL single-game scoring record in Game 1 of Alab Pilipinas' semifinal match-up against Eastern.
Balkman dropped 46 points, barely eclipsing Justin Howard's 45-point mark, in a 98-94 win by Alab over Eastern at the Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong.
Thirteen of those 46 markers came in the fourth quarter, which helped Alab survive a late run by Eastern to go 1-0 up in the best-of-three affair.
Down 62-75 after three quarters behind a 36-point outburst by Alab in the second quarter, Marcus Elliott caught fire in the fourth and led Eastern's fight back.
Tyler Lamb opted to endure the pain in his hamstring and helped Elliott carry the offensive load.
Lee Ki completed the comeback with an off-the-screen triple that tied the game up, 94-all, with 56 seconds left.
Pamboy Raymundo tried a teardrop for the Alab lead to no avail, but Balkman grabbed the offensive board and drew the foul from Adam Xu with 37.5 seconds left. Balkman made two free throws to not just Alab the lead at 96-94 but also set the new ABL record.
Lamb tried to give Eastern the lead with a triple, but his shot failed to get the lucky bounce and Balkman collared the game-saving rebound leading to two more charities from Justin Brownlee for the icing on the cake.
Balkman also had 14 rebounds, two assists, four steals, and two blocks, even as Brownlee and Ray-Ray Parks also tallied double-doubles.
Brownlee actually came just short of a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, while Parks had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the third-seeded Alab will try to knock out the second-seeded Eastern at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex on Sunday night.
Lamb finished with 32 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
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