|Renaldo Balkman took over in overtime. Nikki Collantes (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
STA. ROSA, Laguna—Alab Pilipinas survived a gritty challenge from Mono Vampire and prevailed in overtime, 110-100, in the rematch of last year's ASEAN Basketball League Finals at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex on Sunday night.
Down 13 in the third quarter, Alab rallied back and eventually pulled away in the extra five minutes as big men Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos took advantage of Malcolm White's foul troubles.
After letting Mono open a 58-45 advantage with 5:34 to play in the third, Alab went on an 18-3 run to take a 63-61 lead with 1:13 left in the quarter.
The home side then threatened to pull away in regulation after holding to an 84-79 advantage with 2:14 left in the fourth period.
But Mike Singletary and Frederick Lish scored back-to-back triples to put the visitors back up, 85-84, with 1:30 to go.
Balkman scored on a field goal to give Alab the lead back, 86-85, and appeared to be holding on after forcing a miss from Mono.
But Ethan Alvano opened an opportunity for White to give Mono the lead again after fouling him with 32.2 seconds left.
White, however, made a split from the line, eventually forcing the overtime.
Worse, White incurred his fifth foul early into the overtime session, paving the way for Balkman and Ramos pounce the now small-ball Mono inside the paint despite guards Jason Brickman and Moses Morgan and winger Mike Singletary keeping the team afloat.
Balkman put up 38 points, 10 in the overtime period for Alab, which reopened a half-game lead over Saigon, which beat Malaysia at home in Ho Chi Minh, 78-65, for first place in the standings at 8-2.
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