Filipino-American Stanley Pringle finished the job for the Indonesia Warriors with key plays down the stretch to defeat the second-seed AirAsia Philippine Patriots, 73-64, Sunday in Game One of their ASEAN Basketball League semifinals series at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The six-foot-one Pringle had a game-high 23 points, including the Warriors’ final 10, to secure the victory. Indonesia, which never trailed in the series opener, also converted 53 percent of their shots in the first half to help build a lead as big as 21 points in the third period.
With the victory, the Warriors take the homecourt advantage in the series despite missing import Evan Brock for the last three quarters because of a groin injury. They will go for a sweep next week at the Mahaka Square in Jakarta.
“Even though Evan went down, we knew it’s going to be tough,” said Indonesia Warriors coach Todd Purves. “I know the caliber of the Patriots so I know that they would be able to comeback. I’m just proud of the guys for the effort.”
Former Patriots import Steven Thomas dominated the paint with 17 points and 19 rebounds for the Warriors to pick up the slack left by the high-flying Brock.
The Patriots had to dig deep after they only hit three-of-22 from the field in the first period to trail, 24-11. The Warriors even led, 49-28, on a bucket by Thomas in the third quarter but the Patriots cut it to six points heading into the fourth.
Al Vergara threw a pass to Anthony Johnson for a lay-up to slice the gap to six points, 66-60, but Pringle took over.
Pringle nailed a pull-up jumper after Johnson’s basket to increase the lead to eight points. It became 71-62 on his three-pointer basket with three minutes in the game. Pringle snagged the ball on what was supposed to be a Johnson defensive rebound which led to a basket by Christian Ronald Sitepu for a 73-62 lead with 1:30 left in the game.
The Patriots could not find their shots as they only made 20 of their 75 attempts from the field including a paltry six-of-28 from three-point range.
Johnson led the Patriots with 21 points while Vergara added 12 points in sparking a comeback try by the Patriots which sputtered in the end.