“I’m very proud of our guys, especially considering our struggles during the early part of the season,” said Jimmy Alapag. “The coaching staff and I just continued to encourage our guys to keep working and to continue building on our team chemistry.
Interaksyon
Jimmy Alapag says work not over
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Pale Pilsen Alab is safely in the ABL Finals but head coach Jimmy Alapag said yesterday while he’s proud of how the team overcame adversity throughout the season, the work isn’t over until the title is in the bag.

“I’m very proud of our guys, especially considering our struggles during the early part of the season,” said Alapag. “The coaching staff and I just continued to encourage our guys to keep working and to continue building on our team chemistry. To their credit, they’ve come in every day, ready to work and get better and it’s great to see them reap the rewards from all their efforts.”

At Sta. Rosa last Sunday, Alab downed defending champion Hong Kong Eastern, 79-72, in Game 2 of their best-of-3 semifinal series to sweep the tie. Alab upset Hong Kong, 98-94, in Game 1 at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai last Wednesday. Either Mono Vampire of Thailand or Chong Son Kung Fu of China will battle Alab in the Finals.

Vampire beat Kung Fu, 103-94, in Nanhai in Game 1 of their semifinal series last Wednesday. Game 2 is set in Thailand tomorrow. Both teams are boosted by ASEAN heritage Fil-Am imports. Vampire’s Fil-Am is 6-foot Jason Brickman who led the US NCAA Division I in assists for two seasons with Long Island University while Kung Fu’s Fil-Ams are Caelan Tiongson of Biola University and Mikh McKinney of Sacramento State. Vampire’s other heritage import is Filipino Paul Zamar, a former UE standout who was Barangay Ginebra’s fourth round pick in the 2012 PBA draft.

During the eliminations, Alab beat Vampire twice, 114-87 and 86-84 and split with Kung Fu, winning once, 94-91 in overtime and losing once, 92-79. “There are a lot of similarities with Kung Fu and Vampire when you look at their personnel,” said Alapag. “Kung Fu’s (world) imports are Justin Howard and Samuel Deguara while Vampire’s (world) imports are Anthony Tucker and Michael Singletary. Then, you’ve got McKinney for Kung Fu and Brickman for Vampire. Until we know whom we’re playing, we’ll just do our best to stay sharp then begin preparations for whichever team we’ll face in the Finals.”

Alab will take a break today and tomorrow then report back to practice from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the City Club in Makati on Wednesday. Alab team manager Charlie Dy said after practice, the players and coaches will watch Game 2 between Vampire and Kung Fu via live streaming at 1 p.m. 

Dy said both Vampire and Kung Fu are bannered by tough imports. The 6-10 Howard, 36, has played in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Syria, Germany, Spain, Finland, Thailand, Bahrain and Singapore while the 6-4 Tucker, 28, is a scorching scorer from the University of Iowa and Minnesota State University at Moorhead. Singletary, 29, saw action for Barako Bull in 2013 and San Miguel Beer in 2016 in the PBA. Deguara, 26, is a 7-5 behemoth who has played in Spain, Malaysia, Lithuania, Canada and Italy.

Alapag said beating Hong Kong was a feat but the work isn’t over. “We know the job isn’t done,” he said. “The goal is to win the championship and we’ll do our best to bring it back to the Philippines”

Defense was the key to Alab’s win over Hong Kong last Sunday. Alab held Eastern to less than 20 points in each of the first three quarters then left only two Hong Kong players to score in the fourth period. Hong Kong center Ryan Moss, 44, was blanked in the last quarter and heritage import Tyler Lamb, who had 32 points in Game 1, wound up with eight points on 2-of-11 field goals before fouling out with 9:06 left. Another factor was Alab’s bench as the shock troopers outscored the Hong Kong relievers, 12-4. Alapag drew a combined 43 points from world imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman but locals Bobby Ray Parks, Pao Javelona, Chris Sumalinog, Dondon Hontiveros, Josh Urbiztondo and Jay-R Alabanza and Fil-Am Lawrence Domingo also contributed to the effort.

BASKETBALL JIMMY ALAPAG SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN ALAB
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