Philippine Patriots confident, ready for ABL battle
MANILA, Philippines – Another Philippine team may have been tabbed as favorite, but it hasn’t diminished the AirAsia Philippine Patriots’ confidence as they start their Asean Basketball League (ABL) Season 3 campaign this Saturday.
Fielding a revamped roster, the Patriots aim to reclaim the crown behind former Smart Gilas mainstay Aldrech Ramos and American imports Nakiea Miller and Anthony Johnson.
“We have high expectations for this team, and seriously, I think this is the best team we’ve ever formed,” said Harbour Centre CEO Mikee Romero, who co-owns the team with Tonyboy Cojuangco.
“To say the least, we assembled a well balanced team this year.”
The Patriots, however, have been playing second fiddle to the debuting San Miguel Beermen, who ruled a preseason tournament last month.
“I think at this point, San Miguel is the more favored Philippine team,” Romero admitted during the PSA Forum Tuesday at Shakey’s UN Avenue. “But these guys are ready to prove me and the whole league wrong.”
For Miller, who bagged last season’s Best Import plum with the Westports Malaysia Dragons, the Patriots remain as the team to beat.
“We have the best locals,” said the 6-foot-10 Miller. “Together [with Johnson], we form the best 1-2 combination among the imports. It will be very hard for them to stop us.”
“Based on the Thailand (preseason) tournament, I don’t see other teams as threats,” added Johnson.
The Patriots, who lost to the Chang Thailand Slammers in last season’s finals, kick off their bid against the Bangkok Cobras at 4 p.m. this Saturday at the San Juan gym.
“We have improved a lot, especially on chemistry,” said new Patriots coach Glenn Capacio. “Our imports have already jelled with the locals.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.