When Alab Pilipinas hosted the Singapore Slingers on Wednesday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre, the energy was high, as the fans that trooped to San Juan were ecstatic the entire night.
But the Slingers silenced the crowd, and it was Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani who led the crew.
“I knew the crowd was gonna go crazy and we knew that we didn’t want to let the atmosphere shake us up. We just had to stick together,” the six-year pro said after Singapore’s 90-80 road victory.
The 14th overall pick in the 2012 PBA Rookie Draft frustrated Alab all night, going 8-for-14 from the field, 6-of-8 from dowtown for 23 markers.
“It’s great, man,” quipped Mandani, Singapore’s ASEAN Heritage Import.
“Something about the environment, something about the air that just helps me make my shots.”
Moreover, in the final quarter of the game, the 5-foot-11 gunslinger scored 11 markers to help buck any Alab comeback. The biggest shot of the game came with 1:02 remaining. Mandani nailed a long triple that extended Singapore’s lead to double-digits. And after the shot, Mandani looked at the stunned crowd, making a phone call sign — probably saying “call me”.
“It was just good to be back playing in front of everybody. I got my family here watching today. I’m just glad we executed the way we wanted to,” added Mandani, who is averaging 10.25 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for the Slingers this season.
Besides the victory, he believes that his inspired play was the result of his desire to not let down his family and friends who were in attendance.
“I have my girlfriend, my girlfriend’s mother who flew in from Canada, I got my brother Kelly Nabong, and I got all my relatives from Tanay. This is their first time watching live,” shared the Ontario-born cager.
“Of course, that’s a factor in my inspired play. It’s just good to have family here to support.”
And if he can continue his stellar play, maybe he can be called back to the PBA and play in front of his family again on a daily basis.
Jason Brickman steers Mono to back-to-back wins; Mikey Williams’ struggles continue
After stunning defending champions Hong Kong Eastern and contenders Chong Son Kung Fu, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat saw their high snatched from them by Joshua Munzon and the Malaysia Dragons last January 18.
And it just got tougher for the Vietnam-based club team when Jason Brickman and the Mono Vampire ran them out of the CIS Arena, as Thailand’s super team took a 97-83 win, Sunday evening.
Jason Brickman, who flirted with a triple-double last January 19 against the Singapore Slingers, finished with just six points but did the rest by grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.
Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar had 16 points and was a game-high plus-25 for the game.
Same could not be said about their Saigon counterpart Mikey Williams.
Last week’s Heritage Import of the Week once again struggled. Limited to just a solitary point during their last outing, the Filipino-American guard was this time held to just five points on 2-for-9 shooting while going assist-less for the first time in five games.
The visitors locked down Saigon in the second frame that saw them give up just nine points in that 10-minute span. A Zamar lay-up with 5:32 left gave Mono an imposing 28-point lead, 87-59.
With the win, Mono lifted their record to 8-4, 1.5 games ahead of Alab and 2 games ahead of Saigon. The Vampire fell to an even 4-4 record.
Mono’s World Import Mike Singletary had 25 points, while 7-foot-4 big man Samuel Deguara had another double-double with 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 16 rebounds.
Maxie Esho led Saigon with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Moses Morgan and Akeem Scott had 17 and 16 points respectively.
AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports
Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower that Singapore needed in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.
The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.
Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani made six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were pivotal in fending off Westsports.
With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed by a breakaway layup with 5:18 remaining gave Singapore an 81-72 cushion.
Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back, as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.
Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.
Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points, while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes, as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.
Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win
Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.
This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.
With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.
Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.
Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.
Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.
Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.
Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore
After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.
The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.
But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.
Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.
Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.
Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.
Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.
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