Indonesia Warriors crowned ABL new champion
The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League’s (ABL) third season ended Saturday after a brand new champion was crowned at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, the Philippines. The game was everything the fans had hoped for; exciting, and it came down to the wire.
The Indonesia Warriors lifted the trophy as the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League 2012 Champion after hanging on to beat San Miguel Beermen 78-76.
Stanley Pringle played a good game and finished as the team’s leading scorer with 28 points followed by Evan Brock with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Steve Thomas rounded off the Warriors’ top three with 10 points.
The Beermen’s Duke Crews also had a good game and finished as the game’s top scorer with 29 points, followed by Chris Banchero’s 16. Nick Fazekas rounded off the Beermen’s scorers with an 11 point and 16 rebounds double double.
Backed by a boisterous home crowd, the San Miguel Beermen got off to a quick start that earned them an 11-6 point lead heading out of the five minute mark in the first quarter.
After a quick succession of shots in the fourth minute, however, the Warriors managed to cut the deficit to just one point before a 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 leading 19-13.
Both teams came out strong in the second quarter and stepped up their games. The Beermen were still having problems finding the net in the opening minutes and a Pringle steal and basket at the six minute mark gave the Warriors the first double digit lead of the game at 28-18.
The Beermen showed their composure on the court and made several excellent steals to retain possession and were able to cut their point deficit down to just five points at 33 to 38 heading into the second half of an incredible game.
A Crews dunk early in the third quarter set the Beermen back on track and Banchero’s basket at the eight minute mark saw the Beermen even things up at 38 all. The Warriors were determined to make this game count, however, and regained their 10 point lead to head into the final period with a 64-53 lead.
The game became even more intense in the fourth as a Fajardo dunk brought the Beermen’s deficit back down to within seven points with eight minutes still left to play. Fajardo then sunk another important basket at 2:30 to see the scoreboard read 69-71 in favor of the Warriors. Unfortunately for the Beermen Banchero, who had been great that far in the game, fouled out with two minutes left on the clock after committing his fifth personal foul on Pringle.
It was still anyone’s guess who would be lifting the trophy in the final thirty, nail-biting seconds of the game as only four points separated the teams. The Beermen held possession and Crews put in another important basket to bring it back to a one basket game at 78-76, but Pringle was sent to the line again.
Despite having converted 11 out of his 12 free throws up to that point in the game, Pringle missed both.
The door was open for the Beermen, but unfortunately Leo Avenido’s missed a layup, which could have tied the game with seconds left, forced them to foul Brock right away.
Brock went to the line and missed both of his attempts, but it was enough to wind the clock down to ensure that the scoreboard remained unchanged at the final buzzer with the Warriors winning 78 to 76.
The Beermen’s Leo Avenido nailed Local MVP for 2012, while Warrior’s coach Todd Purves and Steve Thomas respectively bagged this year’s Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
The ABL Finals’ MVP was given to Warriors’ Evan Brock, who had been outstanding in the Finals, averaging 21.67 points per game and 13.67 rebounds per game in the series.