Just eight seconds down the clock, Dragons were given a breath of fresh air, a final chance to take the win with two free throws.

Joshua Munzon missed the first try but the crowd roared in unison after making the crucial basket to lead by one point. Brownlee took the rebound and passing it to Donaldo Hontiveros to try for a three pointer.

The stadium ruptured into cheers as the buzzer marked the end of the game, ending Alab Pilipinas’ eight-game streak at MABA Stadium Kuala Lumpur.

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Westports Malaysia Dragons sealed the second consecutive win over Alab Pilipinas by a razor thin point, 90-89.

Dragons’ Christopher Eversley scored 36 points and 6 rebounds while Joshua Munzon bagged 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and Kuek Tian Yuan scored 14 points, 6 rebounds.

Alab’s Renaldo Balkman single handedly carried the team with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 2 assists.

“We talk about professional teams within a country but what it represents for us. It is a really good sign that our process is working. We’ve had so many dents and bruises this year, battle so much adversity all season long with injuries and changing players. I’m so proud of our kids because we fought back every single time.

“Nothing was more evident in the third quarter when they win on that little run. We didn’t let any adversities affect us. Our guys are good at this, they have been good at this all season long. We’ve been smart enough as coaches and players,

“I’ve given them some leash. I know that they will do the right thing. Tonight represents Malaysian basketball scene taking a little step closer that our process is working,” Dragons’ head coach Christopher Thomas said.

Neck-to-neck in the first half

Trading baskets as early as the first three minutes in the first quarter, the Dragons were neck to neck with Alab. Davis were taking the lead with the early two layups but later tied the game at 9-9 from Brownleee and Balkman.

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Although Alab claimed the lead by two from Balkman’s fast break, Dragons were quick to catch back up from Eversley’s dunk and Tian Yuan’s three pointer, 14-11. Midway into the first quarter, Alab went back up in the lead by three, 14-17 as Bobby Ray Parks took the offensive rebound for the basket.

Things were not looking good for Ray Parks when he booked his early second foul on Eversley who made a layup to put Dragons in the lead by a point, 20-19.

Foul troubles were brewing for Alab when the intensity were building up with a thousand-strong crowd in the arena, the Dragons had to tie again with Alab losing the rebound Domingo for a basket, 22-22 in the last two minutes of first quarter.

As the clock was ticking down to the last twenty seconds ending the first quarter, Purdy dribbled around the perimeter and a set up gave an opening for Tian Yuan for a basket ending the quarter with just two points trailing behind Alab, 24-26.

With Brownlee and Balkman dominating the scores for Alab, the Filipino team were fast-paced and early lead extended to five points, 29-34. Munzon’s three free throw penalty gave a breath of hope for the Dragons shaving Alab’s lead down to two points, 32-34.

Just moments in the sixth minute, quick-witted Eversley hustled for the rebound and tie the points again at 34-34. Alab surged on making five points from Brownlee and Ray Parks, trying to move away from the Dragons.

Tension were heated up at the court when Bryan Davis booked his second personal foul on Bobby Ray Parks and with just four points difference, the arena was deafening with both teams were tight.

Munzon’s three pointer in the last two minutes before half time kept the Dragons closing in to Alab at 40-42, but an unfortunate third foul call on Davis was detrimental for the team when the scores were close.

Tian Yuan’s four fouls right before the half time kept the scores tight at 42-45, but without strong key players in the inside will place Dragons in a difficult position to battle against Alab. Munzon tried to make a basket in the final ten second before the buzzer but were unable to convert the possession.

Alab’s Balkman shouldered most of the scores at 21 points while Dragons’ Eversley and Tian Yuan took 14 and 11 points respectively. Dragons were still three points trailing behind Alab Pilipinas, 44-47 at halftime.

Losing the rhythm, keeping the cool

Dragons grabbed the lead back from Alab scoring 9-0 in the run, locking the lead ahead by six points from Eversley and Munzon, 53-47 in the first three minutes of the third quarter. It was not long for Alab to tie again at 53-53 from Bobby Ray, followed by Balkman’s alley opp that got the Filipino crowd on their feet.

Eversley answered the call with a reverse layup, tying the game at 55-55 midway in the third quarter. Alab fought back hard leading closely by two points from Brownlee and Raymundo, 57-59 in the last three minutes of the third quarter.

Dragons losing their rhythm and Alab took the opportunity with 8-2 scoring run, a turn of the table earlier with a six-point lead, 57-63. Down to the final minute, Dragons were back up from Kuek and Eversley’s foul in, tying the game again at 65-65.

Alab closed the quarter and reclaimed the lead again at 65-69.

Just twenty seconds from the start of the fourth quarter, Alab’s John Raymundo booked his fifth foul out of the game. Dragons shaved Alab’s lead down to two from Purdy’s two free throws, 67-69.

Urbiztondo’s well calculated time launched a three pointer but it was quickly retaliated back by Eversley’s basket from the perimeter, 70-72. Davis and Eversley booked their fourth foul, making it a challenging play for the Dragons to take on Alab.

By the third minute of the final quarter, Alab was already ahead by four points after Eversley’s crucial three pointer, 74-78. Just six minutes left before ending the game, Eversley bowed out with his fifth foul as Dragons’ lost their key player who scored 36 points.

It was not all bleak for the Dragons, Kuek stepped up to the plate and his three pointer kept the Malaysian team’s hope alive shaving Alab’s lead down to five, 77-82 midway in the last quarter.

Foul troubles started to brew for Alab, giving more opportunities for the Dragons to catch up. As the clock closing into the last four minutes, Dragons were just three points behind Alab, 81-84.

Crowd rallied behind the Dragons crawling back the lead back in their hands by Davis and Munzon locked the lead back by a point with a rousing dunk before the time out at the last three minutes, 85-84.

Moments after the time out, Alab reclaimed the lead back from Urbiztondo’s three pointer. Alab back on top at 85-87.

The Dragons made a well calculated move in defending their paint causing Alab’s Bobby Ray Parks booking his fifth foul out from the game. Bryan Davis failed to make any of the free throws putting the Dragons in deficit of two points, 85-87 in the last one minute twenty seconds of the game.

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Dragons was given a second chance as Yi Hou took one out of two free throws with just a point followed by Munzon’s three pointer, 89-87. Balkman tied the game again from a layup with just 47 seconds left, 89-89.

After the timeout call, Dragons’ Bryan Davis was fouled out too at the crucial 31.2 seconds, Brownlee did not make any baskets locking the game at 89-89. Alab’s Lawrence Domingo eventually fouled out as Munzon made one out of the the free throw to seal the game with a win.

“We’ve got to keep moving forward because it will be an extremely important game on Saturday (March 10) and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Two teams battling for the spot. It is just so fitting playing at their home court,” said Thomas.

Westports Malaysia Dragons will face Saigon Heat on March 10 at 5PM, CIS Arena Saigon.

Statistics

Westports Malaysia Dragons
Christopher Eversley (36 points, 6 rebounds)
Joshua Munzon (19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks)
Kuek Tian Yuan (14 points, 6 rebounds)
Jawhar Purdy (11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists)
Bryan Davis (9 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists)

San Miguel Alab Pilipinas
Renaldo Balkman (33 points, 19 rebounds, 2 assists)
Justin Brownlee (25 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks)
Bobby Ray Parks (10 points, 7 rebounds)
Lawrence Domingo (7 ponts, 5 rebounds)