Alab Pilipinas needs no motivation for new ABL season
MANILA, Philippines–San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will be using last year’s failed title-retention bid as fuel when it shoots for the crown in the Asean Basketball League’s 10th season that tips off in November in Taiwan.
With three-time local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks now in the PBA, coach Jimmy Alapag will field a new core led by Filipino-American guards Jason Brickman and Jeremiah Gray as Alab tries to regain the crown they won in 2018.
Alab suffered a first-round exit last season as it fell to seventh seed Hong Kong Eastern, and that defeat still stings for Alapag.
“We haven’t forgotten about last season,” Alapag said Thursday at the league’s launch at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City. “We got off to a really great start and then we got hit by the injury bug and all of a sudden, the wheels fell off quickly. I think we should not forget about last season and use that as an added motivation to come back and be better.”
Alab has an uphill climb with Taiwanese powerhouse Fubon Braves joining the league this season, completing the 10-team cast after defending champion CLS Knights decided not to see action.
Thailand’s Mono Vampire, the Singapore Slingers, Formosa Dreamers, Wolf Warriors, Macau Black Bears, Hong Kong Eastern and Saigon Heat of Vietnam complete the roster of teams.
“We’re also expecting the other teams to be better,” said Alapag, noting the player movements in the league that saw former best import Marcus Elliot of Hong Kong teaming up with Xavier Alexander of the Singapore Slingers.
Jericho Ilagan, the ABL’s Chief Operating Officer, said this season could be the most exciting yet, owing to the strength of the teams.
“Most of the teams have really stacked up so it will be really hard to predict who’s coming out on top,” said Ilagan. “There is no better time to be an ABL fan.”
Alapag has yet to fill up his roster with only Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser as the holdovers from last season. The league allows three imports each team, but Alab only tapped two last season in Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos. This time, Alapag intends to field in three reinforcements.
Meanwhile, the league honored its 10 greatest players of all-time that includes three Filipinos in Parks, Leo Avenido and Jerrick Cañada.
Parks not only won three local MVPs, but also has a championship for Alab, while Avenido was part of the 2012 team of San Miguel that captured the crown. Avenido was also the local MVP last year and ranks fifth in the league in scoring.
Cañada won titles with two different teams in Hi-Tech Bangkok and the Indonesia Warriors and was also named Finals MVP in 2014.
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