28 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
HiTech Bangkok City
0 0
Saigon Heat
25 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
HiTech Bangkok City
61 53
Indonesia Warriors
24 Aug 2014 - 16:00 HKT / 15:00 Local
[box score]
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
62 77
Singapore Slingers
23 Aug 2014 - 15:00 HKT / 15:00 Local
[box score]
Westports Malaysia Dragons
82 72
Saigon Heat
22 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 20:00 Local
[box score]
Singapore Slingers
54 65
Indonesia Warriors
17 Aug 2014 - 16:00 HKT / 16:00 Local
[box score]
Singapore Slingers
77 68
Westports Malaysia Dragons
16 Aug 2014 - 17:00 HKT / 16:00 Local
[box score]
Indonesia Warriors
61 72
Saigon Heat
15 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 20:00 Local
[box score]
Westports Malaysia Dragons
85 59
Singapore Slingers
14 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
HiTech Bangkok City
100 91
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
10 Aug 2014 - 16:00 HKT / 16:00 Local
[box score]
Singapore Slingers
80 59
Indonesia Warriors
9 Aug 2014 - 19:00 HKT / 18:00 Local
[box score]
Saigon Heat
98 102
Westports Malaysia Dragons
8 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
Indonesia Warriors
100 63
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
6 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
HiTech Bangkok City
75 59
Saigon Heat
6 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
61 84
Singapore Slingers
3 Aug 2014 - 16:00 HKT / 16:00 Local
[box score]
Singapore Slingers
77 74
Saigon Heat
2 Aug 2014 - 15:00 HKT / 15:00 Local
[box score]
Westports Malaysia Dragons
84 66
Indonesia Warriors
1 Aug 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
79 97
Saigon Heat
30 Jul 2014 - 20:00 HKT / 19:00 Local
[box score]
HiTech Bangkok City
59 51
Singapore Slingers
27 Jul 2014 - 16:00 HKT / 16:00 Local
[box score]
Singapore Slingers
57 65
Westports Malaysia Dragons
26 Jul 2014 - 18:00 HKT / 17:00 Local
[box score]
Saigon Heat
70 48
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra
Man On Court

The playoffs are just a week away so its high time we break down the semifinal matchups. 

But before that…a rant.  Why oh why oh why does the ABL have a two-week break between the regular season and playoffs?  I cant understand it.  The NBA takes, like, two or three days off (I could have looked it up to get the right number but I am lazy) then gets the playoffs rolling.  And that’s after playing an 82-game regular season.  The ABL season is 21 games long with teams playing twice a week so the players are plenty rested. 

Hey, a new league like the ABL needs momentum.  A two-week break is a momentum killer.  Gang, let’s get that fixed for next season. (ABL COO's Note: Actually, the break is more to give the teams enough time to get the venues and travel arrangements sorted rather than to give the players more rest. ABL teams don't always have first dibs on their venues and they will be flying in and out of different countries, unlike in the NBA.)

OK, rant over.  To the semis:

San Miguel Beermen                 VS   Westports Malaysia Dragons

                  (17-4)                                                                             (11-10)

Season Series:

Dragons 2-1.  The Dragons welcomed the Beermen to the ABL with an 83-77 win in KL to open the regular season.  They then stunned San Miguel in Manila to claim the season series before February was even over.  No one else in the ABL beat the Beermen twice.

Hot or Not: 

Beermen have won 7 straight coming into the playoffs, running away with the regular-season title and #1 playoff seed. Coach Bobby Parks has the Beermen peaking at just the right time. 

Meanwhile, the Dragons backed into the postseason.  A home win over the Singapore Slingers on May 9th would have given them the #3 playoff seed and a date with Patriots.  Instead, they were blown off their own floor by Singapore, allowing Indonesia to swoop in and claim the #3 spot. Coach Ariel Vanguardia must be concerned at the team’s mindset heading into the semifinals.

Key Players:

San Miguel turned everything around with the midseason acquisition of center Nick Fazekas and forward Duke Crews. Two guys who can get their own shots yet are unselfish, and know how to find the open man. Fazekas runs with all the urgency of a man headed to the refrigerator, yet goes to the right spot every time.

San Miguel Beermen's Nick Fazekas San Miguel Beermen's Duke Crews Westports Malaysia Dragons Brian Williams Westports Malaysia Dragons Tiras Wade

Brian Williams and Tiras Wade have formed the most lethal import combo in the ABL, together averaging 46 points and 21 rebounds per game. Williams shrugged off a midseason injury to finish the season strong.    

Wild Cards:

Veteran Leo Avenido is capable of taking over a game with his outside shooting.  Yet he can also go into a deepfreeze and drift out of the action.  The Beermen will need him to come up big in this series as the imports here are equally talented and may end up a wash.

San Miguel Beermen's Leo Avenido Westports Malaysia Dragons' Patrick Cabahug

For the Dragons, which Pat Cabahug will show up?  The one who scores in transition (Cabahug was a 40% shooter from 3-pt land), plays flypaper defense and runs the floor as well as anyone in the league, or the one who went 2 of 10 in the Dragons season-ending loss to Singapore?

Weird But True:

Tiras Wade scored exactly 28 points in each of his three games against San Miguel.

Prediction:

Yes, the Dragons beat the Beermen twice in the regular season. But that was before Crews and Fazekas were running the show. And the Dragons defense seemed to desert them as the season wore on.  In the season-ending loss to Singapore, Malaysia allowed Don Dulay to score 24 points. Froilan Baguion is better than Dulay, and that spells trouble for the Dragons on the perimeter.  One thru twelve, the Beermen are just deeper, and that will be the difference.  San Miguel Beermen in 3 games. 

          AirAsia Philippine Patriots VS Indonesia Warriors

                                (15-6)                                                                   (12-9)

Season Series:

Patriots 2-1.  Pats won the first two games of the series.  The Warriors lone win came when the Pats were caught without an import center. Nakiea Miller had been released but his replacement Chris Alexander had walked out on the team. The Patriots filed an appeal to reinstate Miller but it was too late for the Warriors game and they were bounced by 25 in their worst loss of the season. Don’t think they’ve forgotten about it.

Hot or Not:

Indonesia finished the regular season fighting for their playoff lives – they won five straight to clinch the #3 seed.  The additions of import Evan Brock and Fil-Am Stan Pringle were upgrades at two positions. Brock, the high-flying forward, gives center Steve Thomas room to patrol the paint, creating matchup problems for the rest of the league.  The acquisition of Stan Pringle has allowed coach Todd Purves to move Mario Wuysang to the shooting guard spot.  The result is a potent Warriors backcourt.  Pringle and Wuysang are both capable of going off for 20 points in any game.

The Patriots won 3 of their last 5, but they could afford to take their foot off the gas, as they had long locked up the #2 seed and knew they would be hosting a semifinal series.  Coach Glenn Capacio seems to have overcome the blip of having to get Nakiea Miller to happily rejoin the team after being unceremoniously released. 

Key Players:

For the Patriots, their offense starts with Anthony Johnson.  The rare import who has completed an entire regular season with one club, Johnson picked up a groin injury with the regular season winding down.  He’s probably the only man in the ABL who’s happy there is a two-week layoff between the regular and postseason.  He gives the Patriots almost 25 points a game, while shooting a respectable 47%. 

Patriots' Anthony Johnson Warriors' Steve Thomas

Indonesia’s Steve Thomas won the ABL rebounding title, with 14.6 boards per game.  He also averaged a quality double-double, scoring 16.3 points per contest.  Thomas is an intimidating force in the middle, with a wide body that is all but impossible to knock off the low block.  The only troubles for Thomas come at the free throw line, where he made just 54.5%.

Wild Cards:

Nakiea Miller.  His season stats were certainly solid:  16.5 pts, 11.2 reb and 2.8 blks (tops in the league).  So why did the Patriots release him in the middle of the season?  One school of thought was that Miller would have trouble with the league’s top big men in the playoffs.  Another is that Miller wore out his welcome.  The Patriots are his third team in three seasons.  He’s a free spirit who speaks his mind, and doesn’t mind bucking the system.  Now on his third team in three seasons, Miller will match up against the Indonesia team he led in 2010. How will Miller play against his former teammates?  If he keeps his emotions in check, the Patriots should win this series.

Patriots' Nakiea Miller Warriors' Mario Wuysang

Mario Wuysang scored 24 points the first time he faced the Patriots this season.  In the return date, he shot just 1 of 13 to finish with a measly 2 points. The entire season has been feast or famine for Wuysang.  When the Warriors look for a third scorer in this series, after Brock and Thomas, Mario will need to be Super.

Weird But True   

Steve Thomas actually had a better field goal percentage (55.5%) than free throw percentage (54.5%) this season.  I am reasonably certain that’s a first in this league, and many others. 

Prediction

The safe pick is definitely the Patriots, who have home-court advantage and one of the league’s most consistent scorers in Anthony Johnson.  Also, Glenn Capacio has instilled defensive discipline in the Pats as they try to win their second title in two years.  If Jason Rabadeaux wasn’t in the league, Capacio’s the Coach of the Year.

In the Finals last season, Mario Wuysang was a guest commentator for the ABL after Satria Muda failed to make the playoffs. As we were preparing for the game, I asked Mario how he felt about being on the sidelines for the postseason.  He turned, shot me THE LOOK and said “We’ll win the championship next year.”  With the additions of Brock and Pringle, and the way the Warriors finished the season on a mission, I believe Wuysang. Indonesia Warriors in 2 games.