Sunday, January 2, 2011

ABL: Patriots bow to Slammers in 2 OTs

BANGKOK – Defending champion AirAsia-Philippine Patriots bowed to the Chang Thailand Slammers in a thrilling double overtime game Sunday night, 76-83, in a crucial setback that thwarted their bid for the top spot come the playoffs of the Air-Asia ASEAN Basketball League.

The Slammers uncorked eight unanswered points to kick off the second extra period, highlighted by a booming trey from Attaporn Lertmalaipron and a completed three-point play by Piyapong Piroon.

By the time the league’s No. 1 team was through with its run, the Slammers had already zoomed ahead, 82-74, sparking a wild celebration inside the Nimibutr National Stadium here.

Egay Billones finally scored on a drive to break the silence for the Patriots, but a split from the foul line at the other end by Sopon Pinitpatcharalert made it a seven-point game for the Slammers.

The hard-earned win allowed the host to keep the No. 1 spot in the standings with a 10-3 record. The Slammers now also own a 2-1 edge over the Patriots in their head-to-head duel in the eliminations. Chang Thailand also scored a 69-68 win here over the Patriots last Nov. 20.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the reigning champions, who fell to 8-5 overall for second place, just a notch ahead of the idle Kuala Lumpur Dragons (7-5).

The Patriots, who led by as many as 10 in the early going, 12-2, also saw their two-game winning streak snapped.

Billones led the Patriots with 28 points and single-handedly rallied the team from five points down in regulation play. 

Steve Thomas’ basket with 20 seconds left sent the game into overtime, 64-64, as Chris Daniel Cuete missed on the Slammers’ final play at the buzzer.

Thomas and Billones connived in the absence of the fouled-out Gabe Freeman to give the Patriots a 74-72 lead.

But Pinitpatcharalert scored on a banked shot for the game’s second overtime, 74-74. -KY, RCJ, GMANews.TV

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