Game Preview: Alab Pilipinas vs Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions

Alab Pilipinas will head back to the south as Davao City hosts their final home game the 2016-17 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) regular season on Sunday, March 19.

The Philippine side will take on the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions with the game time set at 8:00PM at the USEP Gym, hoping to score at least one victory over the Long Lions in their regular season series.

Hong Kong has dominated Alab in their head-to-head match-up, winning all three previous meetings by double digits. The last encounter was an 83-61 win last March 12 at the Sta. Rosa Arena, in a game where Tyler Lamb, Marcus Elliott, and Josh Boone simply dominated.

The Long Lions fell to the Saigon Heat, 96-92 recently, but head coach Edu Torres said he was still satisfied with the effort his squad showed in that affair in spite of the absence of Boone.

“I was super satisfied with the effort of our guys. We played the way we had to play the game. Obviously you miss somebody like Boone, that changes the whole game, but no complaints. Our opponents just did it better than us and they deserved to win,” Torres said.

Elliott had a career night in spite of the loss, dropping 35 points, on close to 50% shooting, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Hong Kong also drew a solid performance from Fong Shing Yee in the absence of Boone. The forward tallied a double-double of 17 points (7-of-14 FG) and 11 boards.

The Long Lions may still be without Boone for Sunday as the World import center suffered from back spasms earlier in the week.

“We will see what’s going to happen to Josh. He is an important player to us,” Torres said.

This gives Alab an ideal opportunity to get back and steal one game from Hong Kong as they are also trying to solidify their hold of the third spot in the team standings.

But Alab head coach McC Cuan doesn’t see the potential absence of Boone as something that would give them a decisive edge, even saying that they are preparing expecting Boone to play.

“I expect boone to play and I dont think he’ll sit out against us. So we are preparing as if Boone is there,” Cuan said.

At 9-9, Alab is 1.5 games above the Saigon Heat. While it is unlikely the Heat will overtake them, Alab would want to avoid further disaster and try to gain rhythm heading into the post-season.

For that to happen, Alab will need to get more output from Ray Parks and World import Sampson Carter.

James Hughes (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Lawrence Domingo (15 points, 11 rebounds) were both solid last Sunday, but the 1-2 punch struggled.

Parks finished with only 9 points (2-of-12 FG), 9 rebounds, and 3 assists the last time out, and turned the ball over four times. Carter was pedestrian, wounding up with only 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting. 

“We need a good start. We have to come out and compete from the tip, bring the energy and effort,” Cuan added.

“During the one week break, we focused on enjoying the game again. When you have that kind of losing streak you tend to focus on the negative and become tight. I just wanted us to remember why we started the season well.”

Will Alab be able to snap a two-game losing streak or will the league-leading Long Lions regain rhythm and bounce back? Tune in on Sunday to find out.