Patriots battle Indonesia Warriors sans Alexander
AFTER Chris Alexander’s “one-and-done” deal, the AirAsia Philippine Patriots could face the Indonesia Warriors with just one import in the AirAsia Asean Basketball League today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Alexander left for the United States on Thursday to attend to a pressing family problem after a hyped debut for the Patriots, who absorbed a third straight defeat at the hands of the San Miguel Beermen last week.
Orphaned by his sudden departure, the Patriots are looking to rehire Nakiea Miller and pair the 6-foot-10 low-post workhorse again with high-volume scorer Anthony Johnson, the league’s second leading offensive machine with 24.53 points per game.
Team manager Erick Arejola is working on Miller’s inclusion, hoping the league would consider their appeal and somehow relax a rule that prohibits teams from changing imports after their 16th game of the season.
“We’re praying that ABL officials will give the go-signal for Miller to play,” said Arejola.
The 6-foot-11 Alexander had 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks against the Beermen before calling it quits, creating a huge crater for the league-leading Patriots (13-3) in the middle.
“It’s so sad. We thought Chris would be the right guy for us,” said Arejola. “We need all the support from basketball fans and more luck to hurdle this game.”
With or without Miller, Patriots coach Glen Capacio is expected to rely heavily on his locals—Al Vergara, Jonathan Fernandez, Warren Ybanez, Aldrech Ramos, Francis Adriano, Eddie Laure and Bog Raymundo—now that the Warriors (8-9) have gone through a major facelift.
Import Evan Brock and Filipino-American Stanley Pringle both had smashing debuts and powered the Warriors to a 98-80 rout of the Westports Malaysia Dragons in Jakarta recently.
“For us to bounce back, we have to play with lots of passion and energy,” said Capacio. “We can’t take Indonesia for granted. This is a big test for us.”
Vergara, a speedy point guard with hard-nosed skills, missed the clash with the Beermen due to an illness and will be inserted back into Capacio’s rotation.
The Patriots will sport a commemorative “Kagitingan” uniform for the first time to honor the Filipino heroes of World War II.