Tough back-to-back bid for Alab Pilipinas as ABL continues to grow
No team in the ASEAN Basketball League has won back-to-back championships.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas hopes to be the first to pull off the historic feat as they defend their crown in the upcoming 2018-19 ABL Season.
But Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag knows it’s best for his team to avoid looking too far ahead.
“You can run away from it. The ABL is growing and is continuing to improve the last nine years and no one has won back-to-back,” Alapag told INQUIRER.net on Tuesday in a press conference at Marriott Hotel.
“We’re aware of it and it’s something that we acknowledge, but I just want our guys focusing on every day trying to get better and putting ourselves in the position that each day we get closer to our goal which is to be back in the finals,” he said.
Getting there won’t be easy especially with the rest of the league extra motivated to take down the defending champions.
“Winning back-to-back titles has never been done and that alone explains everything. It’s going to be tough because we have a bullseye on our back,” said Alab swingman Ray Parks, who is the reigning two-time Local MVP.
“We all heard in there that everyone’s saying that the Philippine team is so strong but I’m not reading too much into that,” Alapag said.
“Every team has gotten better and as the defending champions, you’re going to get every team’s best shot whether it’s Hong Kong or Formosa.”
The core players from last year’s championship run with the exception of Justin Brownlee, are back for Alab.
Aside from Parks, Renaldo Balkman, Pamboy Raymundo, Josh Urbiztondo, Lawrence Domingo, Paolo Javelona, Rob Celiz, Oping Sumalinog and JR Alabanza are ready for Alab’s title-retention bid, which begins with a home game against the CLS Knights Indonesia at Sta. Rosa Multipurpose Complex in Laguna on December 9.
Teaming up with Balkman as Alab’s other World Import is the hulking PJ Ramos while Filipino-Americans Caelan Tiongson, Brandon Rosser and Ethan Alvano and former La Salle slotman Prince Rivero complete the squad.
The tireless Tiongson, who does a little bit of everything, was brought in by Alapag from Chong Son Kung Fu, which has relocated to Macau and will now be known as the Macau Black Bears in the coming season.
The ABL also welcomed its newest member in China’s Zhuhai Wolf Warriors, expanding the league to 10 teams.
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