Alab Pilipinas absorbed a heartbreaking loss anew to Hong Kong Eastern Sports Club, 96-99, in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Season 8 on Wednesday night at the Southern Stadium.
The Filipino squad collapsed down the stretch en route to its first loss on the road and third straight overall this season.
It was also Alab’s second setback to Hong Kong Eastern following a painful 89-92 defeat last November 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
World Import Ivan Johnson came through with a game-high tying 32 points and nine rebounds while fellow reinforcement Reggie Okosa chipped in a double-double of 25 markers and 13 boards for Alab.
Reigning local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks Jr. struggled as he finished with 11 points on a dismal 3-of-11 shooting clip.
Led by its Heritage Imports, defending champion Hong Kong Eastern cruised to an immaculate 5-0 win-loss record.
Tyler Lamb fired 32 points highlighted by clutch baskets while Fil-German Christian Standhardinger added 25 markers and 12 rebounds in their squad’s successful home stand.
Staring at an 85-88 deficit with under four minutes remaining, the Thai-American Lamb notched seven points in a furious 14-2 run to push the home team ahead, 96-88, at the 1:27 mark.
Okosa capped an 8-2 rally with a booming triple as the Tanduay-backed visiting squad threatened to within 96-98 with just 15 seconds left.
Hong Kong’s Lee Ki split his free throws for a 99-96 lead, giving Alab a chance to send the game to overtime.
However, just like in the first encounter, guard Josh Urbiztondo muffed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
Alab will have another chance to barge into the win column when it squares off with Formosa Dreamers on Saturday at the Changua Stadium in Taiwan.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA