By JONAS TERRADO
Game Wednesday (Southorn Stadium, Hong Kong)
8 p.m. – Hong Kong vs Alab Pilipinas
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas completed a quarterfinal sweep of the Saigon Heat, 96-85, Saturday in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to arrange a semifinal duel with Christian Standhardinger and defending champion Hong Kong Eastern in the ASEAN Basketball League.
Alab banked on the efforts of Lawrence Domingo, imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman, Ray Parks Jr. and Paolo Javelona to see off the Heat in another bruising encounter and secure a place in the semifinals of the regional league.
The Jimmy Alapag-mentored squad took Game 1, 110-100, in San Juan City before sweeping Saigon in front of its boisterous home crowd at the CIS Arena.
Domingo and Balkman had 21 points apiece, Brownlee had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Javelona posted 11 points, six rebounds and four assists and Parks adding 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Up next for Alab is a date with Hong Kong, the opener of their best-of-three series set Wednesday at the Southorn Stadium in the Wan Chai district of the former British colony.
Alab will host Game 2 on April 15 at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, with a deciding third game, if necessary, slated April 20 in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong won both games against Alab in the eliminations, each game ending by a margin of three points.
Standhardinger put on a show in front of a crowd that included future teammates at San Miguel in the PBA and beat Alab, 92-89, last Nov. 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alab blew a big lead and fell 99-96 to Hong Kong last Dec. 13 in Wan Chai in the second meeting, with the Filipino side still parading imports Ivan Johnson and Reggie Okosa.