San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ outright semifinals aspirations has come to an end as Chong Son Kung Fu tore Hong Kong Eastern Basketball apart, 88-77, in the final game of the ABL’s elimination round, Wednesday night at Southorn Stadium.
Alab will now head into the playoffs as the third seed. Chong Son has clinched the top spot, while HK is at second. Completing the playoff picture are the Mono Vampire BC (4), Singapore Slingers (5), and Saigon Heat (6).
The Filipino club team will face the Heat, and Mono will clash with the Slingers in the quarterfinals.
Filipino-Americans Caelan Tiongson and Mikh McKinney brought out all-around performances for Chong Son. Tiongson made 12 points and nine rebounds, while McKinney chipped in 11 markers, four boards, and four assists.
Hong Kong had already dictated the pace early on with a 22-7 lead at the end of the opening frame, but the visitors fought back strongly and eventually snatched the lead, 50-44, thanks to an 18-5 blitz to open the third chapter.
Kung Fu then never looked back and kept the onslaught the rest of the way. Their lead grew by as much as 18 points, 80-62, after five straight points from World Imports Anthony Tucker and Justin Howard with 4:43 left to play.
Tucker led Kung Fu with 29 points — 15 in the third quarter alone — spiked by six three-pointers, and Howard had a solid 20-20 outing as he provided 24 points and 22 rebounds along with three assists and two blocks.
“It was a big win for us,” said Tucker. “We had to win to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. We didn’t come out and play the best we could in the first quarter but we came together in the second quarter especially in the second half.
“I’m really happy we came out with the win,” he added.
Tyler Lamb paced HK Eastern with 30 points, three rebounds, three assists, and five steals. Marcus Elliott produced 20 points, 10 caroms, and five dimes, and fellow World Import Ryan Moss had 11 markers and nine boards.
Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the defending champions.
Both Chong Son and Hong Kong earned outright semis spots. Alab will face the Saigon Heat on Sunday, April 1.