by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Sta. Rosa, Laguna)
8 p.m. – Alab Pilipinas vs Mono Vampire
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas looks to literally hurdle a huge obstacle tonight and gain a headstart in its best-of-five finals showdown with Thailand’s Mono Vampire in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Coach Jimmy Alapag is hoping Alab would be able to neutralize Mono’s 7-foot-5 center Samuel Deguara in the series that begins at 8 p.m. in one of Laguna’s bustling cities and set the tone for the showdown featuring teams that found the right groove late in the season.
Deguara was mainly responsible for sending Mono to the finals when his buzzer-beating basket off a foul propelled the Thai club to a thrilling 83-80 win over Chong Son Kung Fu that completed a sweep of their best-of-three semifinal series.
“He’s been a problem for everyone this entire season,” Alapag said before yesterday’s practice at Kerry Sports in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. “He really just imposed his size and strength in the middle so I think it won’t be just one guy defending him.”
Import Renaldo Balkman, who starred in Alab’s sweep of deposed champion Hong Kong Eastern in the semis, and local center JR Alabanza are expected to share the duties in trying to make the Maltan cager work for his baskets.
Alapag, however, is also expecting Fil-American guard Jason Brickman, ex-PBA import Mike Singletary and former University of the East star Paul Zamar to deliver the goods for Mono.
“I thought how Brickman played in the semifinals was incredible. I thought he really did a good job controlling Game 1 and Game 2 against Kung Fu,” Alapag said. “Singletary is a former PBA import and a big-time scorer and Paul Zamar has been impressive not only with the way he shot the ball all season but playing better off the dribble and making plays for everybody.”
Import Justin Brownlee, reigning Local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks Jr., Lawrence Domingo, Paolo Javelona, Josh Urbiztondo and Pamboy Raymundo will be the main cogs in Alab’s quest to continue its mastery of Mono.
Alab beat Mono in its first meeting, 114-87, in Bangkok last January before Balkman’s basket off a Brownlee assist enabled the Filipinos to prevail anew, 86-84, a month later in Baliuag, Bulacan.