Zamboanga Valientes hang on to playoff hopes, while Macau Black Bears snap NS Matrix
Malaysia’s win streak in the second day of action in the Vietnam Circuit of the 2023 ABL
Despite being under-manned, Zamboanga were able to stay alive in the playoff race with an 83-
69 win over Louvre Surabaya.
The victory was the first game for former ABL champion Renaldo Balkman with Zamboanga who
replaced Antonio Hester on the roster. Balkman’s debut resulted in a near triple double with 28
points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists on 13-18 field goal shooting from the big man.
Zamboanga had to quickly fill in the gaps as they were without the services of Mario Chalmers
who was temporarily unavailable for this game and Jeremy Arthur stepped up with 16 points.
Louvre enjoyed a 29-24 lead at the end of the first quarter, but that joy was short-lived as they
would be outscored by their Filipino opponents 31-9 in the second quarter. The Indonesian club
saw four players score in double-digits including Biboy Enguio (17 points), Alioune Tew (16
points), Marcus Hammonds (13 points), and Jamarr Johnson (13 points).
After the Singapore Slingers’ first win the day before, Zamboanga Valientes are now forced to
win all of the rest of their games if they want to make the playoffs, a task that they’ve
accomplished so far here.
The fans at Nguyen Du stadium were treated by a massive upset in the second game of the day
as the short-handed Macau Black Bears defeated NS Matrix Malaysia, 75-65.
NS Matrix were previously on the verge of going on a ten-game win streak, which would have
been the longest ever by a club from Malaysia in ABL competition. However, they failed to take
advantage of the Black Bears being without Isaiah Wade and had to absorb their first loss since
The Black Bears were actually trailing at the end of the first half, but came out of the locker
room energized, to finish with a 17-6 third quarter advantage. Coach Charles Dube-Brais
enjoyed an excellent game from Lao Chon Pong who had 20 points on 6 three-pointers to lead
the team with Dequan Abrom, who also had 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Jenning Leung had 17
points of his own.
NS Matrix struggled without Amir Williams in the paint, a void which even the return of Wong
Chong Han could not fill. The team struggled to find their shot as they went 19-69 from the
field. Player of the KL Circuit Tevin Glass led the team with 21 points and 22 rebounds, though it
took him 16 attempts to get to that total.
NS Matrix have already clinched a playoff berth and are still at the top of the standings with a 9-
3 record and head-to-head advantage over the Saigon Heat, but their fans were certainly
hoping that they could see the win streak go on until the end of the circuit. The Macau Black
Bears improve to 6-7 but, with only one game left in their schedule, are unable to crack into the
top 4 teams in the standings.
Zamboanga Valientes immediately continue their quest to qualify for the playoffs on Tuesday,
February 14, which will be a nerve-racking game against Hong Kong Eastern. Mario Chalmers is
expected to be available for the game and fans shall finally see if the ex-NBA tandem can will
Zamboanga onwards to the playoffs. NS Matrix will also be in action as they go up against the
Louvre Surabaya and Macau Black Bears will play their next game on Wednesday, February 15,
when they face each other.