By Jonas Terrado
(Sta. Rosa, Laguna)
8 p.m. – Alab Pilipinas vs Singapore
Tanduay Alab Pilipinas hopes to play with more consistency tonight as it tries to enter the win column against the Singapore Slingers in the resumption of the ASEAN Basketball League at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Coach Jimmy Alapag sees the 8 p.m. match with the Slingers as a crucial step in Alab’s bid to show its capability to compete with the early leaders despite a 92-89 loss to defending champion Hong Kong Eastern in the season-opener 10 days earlier at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alapag said another loss would put Alab behind the eight-ball as far as the standings are concerned. Debuting Chinese club Chong Son Kung Fu is on top after two blowout victories followed by Hong Kong, Westports Malaysia Dragons, Singapore and Indonesia’s CLS Knights.
“Singapore’s coming off a big win at home against Indonesia, so again with (Chong Son) already have two wins and Hong Kong being the defending champion, it will be important for us to stay in the pack,” said Alapag, who recent did double-duties for holding Alab practices and helping out in Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers as an assistant coach.
The Slingers were pummeled 83-59 by Chong Son last Nov. 17 in Nanhai but bounced back Sunday when it beat the Surabaya-based Knights, 77-66, at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
For Alab to beat Singapore in their first meeting since being swept in last season’s semifinals, it will need to take care of the ball after committing 15 turnovers in the first half against the Christian Standhardinger-powered Hong Kong squad.
Alab also erased a 15-point deficit behind reigning Local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks Jr. and import Reggie Okosa but failed to sustain its form when Hong Kong made the key baskets late behind Standhardinger.
Alapag is confident the team’s other import, former TNT reinforcement Ivan Johnson, can bounce back after dealing with sickness the last time. Former PBA guard and one-time Slinger Josh Urbiztondo and ex-PBA D-League standout Oping Sumalinog are expected to provide ample support.
Players to watch for the Slingers are imports Xavier Alexander and Ryan Wright, locals Delvin Goh, Leon Kwek, Desmond Oh, Mitchell Folkoff and Fil-American AJ Mandani.
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