Renaldo Balkman was the hero that San Miguel Alab Pilipinas needed to keep its streak going, as the controversial import knocked down the game-winner that led to the Philippine-side’s 86-84 win over the Mono Vampire, Wednesday evening at the Baliwag Star Arena in Bulacan.
It was an all-important victory, as Alab now holds a half-a-game lead over Mono in the standings with a 9-4 slate. Moreover, Alab continues its winning streak to six games.
In addition to the implications this game had in the standings, Alab now holds a 2-0 edge over Mono in the regular season series. The San Miguel-backed squad romped Mono at Stadium 29 last January 14, 114-87.
But unlike their win on the road, Alab had to earn this victory.
Alab had an advantage as high as six points in the final frame, but Mono slowly but surely chipped into the lead. Back-to-back triples by Jason Brickman and Mike Singletary knotted the contest at 84-all with 19 seconds remaining.
Instead of going for a timeout, coach Jimmy Alapag allowed his team to play on.
After moving the ball around, it found its way to Balkman, who calmly sank the go-ahead basket with 3.8 seconds left. Mono sued for time afterwards, but Singletary missed a three-pointer as time expired.
Balkman, the reigning World Import of the Week, finished with 31 big points while grabbing 13 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks.
Fellow World Import Justin Brownlee had 16 points but needed 22 attempts. The Ginebra star made it up by finishing with 12 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals.
Alab skipper Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. was limited to just 10 points, attempting just eight shots.
Mono had a strong start, kicking off the game with a 16-7 spurt. The home team turned things around in the second frame, leading by as much as 13 points, 33-20, midway through the quarter.
Filipino-American floor general Brickman steered Mono with 11 points and 11 assists. Filipino export Paul Zamar was contained to just 12 points, going 4-for-11 from the field.
Seven-foot-four Samuel Deguara led Mono with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Singletary played all 40 minutes for 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two steals.
Alab will next face the CLS Knights on Sunday, February 11, in Surabaya, Indonesia.