With a playoff spot already in the bag, the AirAsia Philippine Patriots leaned on their locals in the late goings to pull out an 80-74 win over the Chang Thailand Slammers over the weekend in Bangkok to cap off their elimination round campaign in the ASEAN Basketball League.
Rob Wainright, Marcy Arellano, Jonathan Fernandez and Aldrech Ramos backed the Patriots up even with the ejection of Nakiea Miller and Anthony Johnson playing with a groin injury.
The Patriots finished their elimination round campaign with a 16-5 record and will face the Indonesia Warriors in the semifinals starting on May 27.
“Naipakita ng mga bata ang character nila. Hindi sila nag-panic at lumabas ang pagiging beterano nila,” said AirAsia Philippine Patriots coach Glenn Capacio.
Even after they held a 19-point lead in the third quarter, the Slammers had momentum going into the fourth after a 9-0 run to trail by eight points, 49-57.
Chang Thailand also got a break when Miller was ejected in the game after his second consecutive technical foul for complaining a foul called on him against Thailand’s Apriromvilaicai early in the fourth period.
The Slammers made four of the six free throws awarded due to the technical foul and came to within four points.
But the Patriots regained their composure thanks to the locals.
With the Slammers threatening at 59-55, the locals turned their game a notch higher. Ramos converted a jumper followed by back-to-back three-pointers by Wainwright and Fernandez to grab a 69-58 lead.
Arellano hit 10 of his 11 points in the first half that saw the Patriots jump out to a 36-23 lead after two quarters.
“Lagi namang nandyan ang mga imports kaya ang gusto ko talagang makita na may contribution lagi ang mga locals especially now that we are going to the semis,” said Capacio.
Johnson had 15 points while Miller added 11 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and four steals. Wainwright added 11 points including three triples.
The Warriors clinched the number three spot in the playoffs with a 92-85 victory over the Singapore Slingers.