THE Indonesia Warriors emerged champions of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) yesterday after edging San Miguel 78-76, as the league crowned its third winner in as many entertaining years.
Missing four free throws in the last half-a-minute nearly proved costly for the Warriors, but they managed to wind down the clock in the closing seconds to take the title at the Ynares Sports Arena in the Philippines.
The first two seasons were sweeps in the final, but after brushing past San Miguel 81-61 at the Mahaka Square Jakarta in Game 2, the Warriors proved worthy of their name by surviving a late comeback to get their hands on the trophy at the same venue they lost Game 1 86-83.
Four points separated the sides in yesterday's final 30 seconds until San Miguel's Duke Crews who would end the game as the top-scorer with 29 points helped the hosts make it a one-possession game.
Stanley Pringle, who led the Warriors' in scoring with 28, was fouled during the next play, but despite having converted 11 out of his 12 free throws up to that point in the game, went on to miss both.
San Miguel's Leo Avenido missed a lay-up that could have evened the scores with seconds left, and though Evan Brock was fouled straight after and failed to sink both his attempts the visitors would hang on for the win.
Brock finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds while Steve Thomas, who was named Defensive Player of the Year, rounded off the Warriors top three with 10 points.
Brock was honoured with the ABL Finals MVP after averaging 21.67 points and 13.67 rebounds in the series.
Avenido, who was named Local MVP of the Year, ended the game with nine points. Chris Banchero had 16 to his name while Nick Fazekas netted 11.
The Warriors' Todd Purves won the Coach of the Year award, and after earlier predicting that Game 3 would go down to the wire, couldn't have hit the nail better on the head.
The hosts were up 11-6 mid-way through the first period but after a quick succession of shots, the visitors managed to cut the deficit to just one point before a Mario Wuysang three-pointer put them ahead for the first time at 15-13 with 1:25 to go.
The Warriors continued their shooting streak to head into the second quarter with a 19-13 cushion.
San Miguel were having problems finding the net in the opening minutes of the second quarter and a Pringle steal and basket at the six-minute mark gave the Warriors their first double digit lead of the game at 28-18.
The hosts remained composed, and making several excellent steals, were able to cut the deficit down to five points (38-33) heading into the second half.
Crews' dunk early in the third quarter set the Filipinos back on track, and Bancheros basket at the eight-minute mark saw them even things up at 38-38.
However, a determined offensive effort saw the Warriors enter the final period with a 64-53 lead.
Key baskets by San Miguel's Junmar Fajardo helped the team claw back to 69-71, but Banchero was fouled out in the final two minutes denying the hosts a valuable scoring outlet in the dying stages.
The Brunei Times
Sunday, July 1, 2012
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