Alab gets back at HK 5, secures No. 3

By Joey Villar

MANILA, Philippines - Alab Pilipinas snapped a three-game skid as it exacted revenge against Hong Kong Eastern, 82-75, to all but clinch the No. 3 seed in the ASEAN Basketball League at the USEP Gym in Davao City last Sunday.

Sampson Carter and Robby Celiz fired 20 and 17 points, respectively, as Alab nailed its 10th win against nine defeats while ending the Filipinos’ three-game slide, including two straight against the HK Long Lions.

Alab also pounced on the absence of top Hong Kong gunner and former NBA cager Josh Boone, who took a rest for the second straight game.

But Alab coach Mac Cuan said the key was his team’s strong start.

“I’m just happy we didn’t start flat and we competed right from the start regardless of the Boone situation,” said Cuan.

“Also I loved the effort and it’s a great win to get our minds right for the playoffs and start preparing for it,” he added.

Regardless of its final elms match against Kaohsiung Truth of Chinese Taipei, already out of the semis race with a 5-13 (win-loss) record, at the Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School in Taipei on Tuesday, Alab Pilipinas will play Singapore in the best-of-three semis.

The Slingers have already assured themselves of the No. 2 spot and the homecourt edge versus the Filipinos with 12-7 mark.

But Cuan said he likes the Filipinos’ chances.

“I think we are in their head and trying to avoid us in the semis. They’ve let Saigon beat them in their last two games by not playing two of their top players in the last two games,” said Cuan.

Top seed Hong Kong (15-4) will take on the No. 4 Saigon Heat (8-10) in the other semis duel.

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