Justin Brownlee erupted for a record-setting 46 points to help lead San Miguel Alab Pilipinas past Mono Vampire BC, 143-130, for a 1-0 lead in the 8th ASEAN Basketball Finals, Sunday at Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.
“In all my years of being involved in professional basketball, I’ve never seen and never been part of a game like what you saw tonight,” shared Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag. “I was amazed with the offensive showing we put on in a 45 minute game. I’m definitely not happy giving up 130 points. Again, it was really a hurdle with these types of efforts from these guys.”
The six-foot-five scorer — who also had 10 rebounds and nine assists — has now tied teammate Renaldo Balkman for the most points produced in a playoff game. Brownlee has set the record for the most points in an ABL Finals game.
But the highlight of Brownlee’s performance came in overtime, as he scored 10 of Alab’s 22 points in the extra period to repel a pesky Mono side once and for all and to pave the way for a headstart in the best-of-five series.
Brownlee though got plenty of help especially from Balkman, who had 39 points and 15 rebounds along with four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Ray Parks, Jr. had 27 points and five dimes, and Lawrence Domingo chipped in 14.
The Finals opener had been a tight one especially in the first three quarters, but Alab gained footing in the fourth quarter by zooming to a 15-4 rally — ended by Parks’ trey — en route to a 102-93 advantage with 6:45 on the clock.
Mono though responded accordingly. Thanks mainly to 7-foot-5 tower Sam Deguara, the Thai ball club unloaded a silencing 16-6 rally — punctuated by Deguara’s three-point play — to snatch the lead, 109-108, with 2:43 to go.
That then set up a boxing match between Alab and Mono, as both clubs traded basket after basket. That, until Mono was able to lead by four, 120-116, as Mike Singletary nailed both of his freebies with 19.3 seconds left.
The breaks of the game have seemingly veered away from Alab, but Brownlee cast his magic as he nailed a booming trifecta — off a simple hand-off by Domingo from the right wing — to make it a one-point deficit, 120-119.
Singletary had a chance to seal the match as he Alab sent him to the line with 11.7 seconds remaining, but he was only able to split his charities, leaving the door open for the Filipino ball club for a comeback.
And that is what Alab did, as Brownlee intentionally missed his second free throw after missing his first for a putback. He was able to grab the miss, but his shot missed — the ball barely even kissed the rim.
Fortunately for them, Balkman was at the right spot near the rim — he was the one who was able to secure Brownlee’s miss, and he tipped it back in with 1.3 seconds to go to force an extra period and foil the visiting team’s hopes.
“We try to depend on each other. One man can’t do it. Balkman was there for me. I missed the free throw, but he was there for the putback. That’s just the character of our team,” recalled Brownlee.
From there, Brownlee’s end-game wits was in full display, leaving the Laguna crowd and the whole team jubilated as they have now the lead in series.
Filipino Heritage Import Paul Zamar had a sensational homecoming — his dad, Boycie, was in attendance — despite the bitter result, pouring in 25 points spiked by four triples along with three rebounds and two assists for Mono.
Singletary powered Mono with 42 points and 10 rebounds with six dimes. Deguara, who fouled out in the last four seconds of regulation, produced 21 points and 11 rebounds. Darongpan Apiromvilaichai had 14 markers.
San Miguel Alab will look to earn a commanding 2-0 lead in the series this Wednesday, April 25, still in Laguna.
San Miguel Alab 143 — Brownlee 46, Balkman 39, Parks 27, Domingo 14, Raymundo 9, Javelona 8, Alabanza 0, Celiz 0, Hontiveros 0, Sumalinog 0, Urbiztondo 0.
Mono 130 — Singletary 42, Zamar 25, Deguara 21, Brickman 15, Apiromvilaichai 14, Chanthachon 7, Klahan 6, Boonyai 0, Khukhandin 0, Phuangla 0.
Quarterscores: 26-32, 59-58, 87-87, 121-121, 143-130.