As Alab seeks redemption, Fil-Am standout eyes validation
Jeremiah Gray has had an interesting journey in his basketball career, and this wild ride brought to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League.
A would-have-been Ateneo recruit, Gray went back to the United States to star for NCAA Division II school Dominican University of California, averaging 17.9 points in his junior and senior years, breaking the school’s single-season scoring record with 509 points.
And he makes no effort to hide his goal to be an MVP in the league.
“Of course, that’s my goal,” said Gray about the MVP query. “But whatever I could do to help my team, then that comes first.”
Alab will certainly need help. A title favorite last season, Alab was ushered out by No. 7 seed Hong Kong Eastern, a defeat that still haunts coach Jimmy Alapag.
“We haven’t forgotten about last season,” Alapag said on Thursday at the league’s launch at the 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.”
With Alab seeking redemption and Gray looking to validate his stardom, it seems Alab will not run out of motivation this season—but neither will it run out of quality opposition, too.
The field is stacked with Taiwanese powerhouse Fubon Braves joining the league this season, completing a powerhouse 10-team cast that also includes Thailand’s Mono Vampire, the Singapore Slingers, Formosa Dreamers, Wolf Warriors, Macau Black Bears, Hong Kong Eastern and Saigon Heat of Vietnam.
“We’re also expecting the other teams to be better,” said Alapag, who will take on reloaded foes minus three-time league local MVP Ray Parks, who’s now with Blackwater in the PBA.
But he has Gray.
“Knowing Ray was a good player … it means that a lot of people are looking for me to replace him,” Gray said. “But like I’ve always said, I’m just trying to make a name for myself.”
Gray will have help as Alab signed Jason Brickman for the season that starts on Nov. 16.
“Of course, with Jason, things will get easier, but we still have to come in and practice every day to get that chemistry just right,” Gray said.
Alapag has yet to fill up his roster with only Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser as the holdovers from last season.
Meanwhile, the league honored its 10 greatest players of all-time that includes three Filipinos in Parks, Leo Avenido and Jerick Cañada.