Unlike their first-ever meeting back in the Doha Masters last April, Balanga Chooks were able to keep toe-to-toe with world no. 2 Liman.
Still, the Bataan-based club team were unable to close things out. They suffered a 20-21 (:10) loss to open Pool A competition in the 2019 Hongxiang Holdings Haining Challenger in China, Saturday afternoon.
Balanga were up 20-18 with 1:41 left courtesy of an Alvin Pasaol deuce.
A bevy of turnovers by Balanga then led to a Stefan Stojačić bucket to cut the lead to one with just 42 seconds remaining.
Karl Dehesa and Travis Franklin tried to go for the kill shot, but could not convert. This led to a Stojačić deuce – his sole connection from deep in nine tries – with 10 seconds left to seal the win for the Serbians.
With this, Balanga needs to defeat Sosnovy Bor at 4:15 pm. If they do, then Balanga will hope that Liman blows out Sosnovy Bor in their game set at 6:00 pm to book their outright ticket to the knockout playoffs on Sunday.
Still, Pasaol and Balanga displayed better poise in this game compared to the 9-21 whipping they received from Liman back in the Doha Masters’ quarterfinals.
Behind Pasaol’s 10 points, spiked by four deuces, Balanga led by as much as four points in the game, 12-8.
Franklin added six points and nine rebounds. Dehesa and Chris De Chavez chipped in three and one points, respectively.
World no. 5 Stojačić tallied five points and nine rebounds for Liman. World no. 7 Mihailo Vasic led the way with seven points.
Balanga 20 – Pasaol 10, Franklin 6, Dehesa 3, De Chavez 1.
Liman 21 – Vasic 7, Kojic 5, Stojačić 5, Kovacevic 4.
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