Despite entering the ABL in the latter part of the ninth season, Michael Holyfield has shown to the region that he is among ABL’s dominant big men. Spending only ten games with Hong Kong Eastern, he already averaged staggering numbers of 15.5 points and 16.4 rebounds. This season, the team will continue to fully maximize the former South Bay Laker as their starting center.
With his frame, wingspan, and strength, Holyfield is a towering presence inside the paint. He will continue to be beneficial to the team in terms of grabbing boards and providing second chances on their possessions offensively. On the defensive end, he still gains the upper hand in protecting the rim through his size, whether on the low post or meeting players making a run towards the basket. It may seem that he is the toughest big man on the block, but he still needs to polish his finishing under the hoop, improve his free-throw shooting, and enhance his overall mobility. With proper adjustments to his game, Holyfield may not only raise his ranks among the best players in the ABL but also can be the key for their possible championship run.
When it comes to powerhouse scoring, Julian Boyd has shown an exceptional example of hotshot hoops. In his campaign in the domestic professional league in Iceland, he rendered 22.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game which also made him the Foreign Player of the Year.
The 29-year-old forward started to make noise in the basketball realm in his debut in the domestic basketball league of Canada in 2016. Boyd played from 2016-2018 before he transferred and debuted in the domestic league of Iceland.
During his first game with his team the KR men’s basketball team, he scored 37 points and 12 rebounds in a victory game. In the tenth season of the ABL, the Wolf Warriors under their new head coach Todd Purves, is looking to harvest their glory days with the help of Julian Boyd.
The Macau Black Bears may have found the right player for their small-ball centric style in Kenny Manigault. At the 18th spot, Kenny is an explosive combo guard who makes a living through his freakish athleticism on the court. Once he steps on the gas pedal, it would be hard to stop him as he thrusts his way to the basket soon as he blows the defender through his explosiveness—leading to a monster dunk! Not only does he use his athleticism on the offensive end, but his tenacity could be of good use in defending the perimeter and chasing down drives to the lanes.
With averages from his best season in Finland’s Korisliiga of 17.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game, these numbers show how he utilizes his abilities to the fullest.
If only he could shoot the lights-out from deep, he will be a handful to deal with; he shot below 30% from deep last season—making only 29 of 99 attempts. Also, their small-ball play could be a concern as he takes the role of becoming one of their tallest men to protect the shaded area, which is something unusual for his playing style given his backcourt-heavy duties. Amidst these concerns, Manigault will be a valuable talent for the Black Bears and would prosper along McKinney’s basketball IQ. Expect to see one of ABL’s human highlight reels this season!
6-foot-3 Douglas Herring has been brought on board by the Macau Wolf Warriors in order to bolster their efforts of having a much better season. Last year’s iteration of the Wolf Warriors faced great adversity as they were only able to bring in two wins. To remedy the situation, Wolf Warriors executive Joaquim Lobo brought in ABL legend and All-Time 10 honoree Steven Thomas and ABL champion Herring to the team. In an interview, Lobo admitted that they had difficulties responding to the stacked talent level that is present in the ABL and believes that the signing of the two veterans are the keys to their success.
Herring was the appointed floor general of last year’s champions, the CLS Knights Indonesia, and chipped in 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game as they would claim the title in a thrilling five-game series with the Singapore Slingers. His basketball IQ and ability to find the open man made him a key player for the CLS Knights, quickly making him a fan favorite.
Coach Todd Purves has been all praises for the signing of Herring as he recognizes his value as a player and a team leader. Paired with Thomas, the two veterans are expected to build a winning culture with the Wolf Warriors. Other than serving a mentorship role with the team, Herring could potentially lead the team in most categories, particularly in points and assists, as he is only 32 years old. Look for Douglas Herring to have an even bigger season with the Macau Wolf Warriors this upcoming season.
Coming in at the 16th spot, Macau Wolf Warriors’ leading local Cai Chen is among the ranks in ABL’s top talents this season. A season ago, the Wolf Warriors entered the ABL scene as an expansion team; along with their debut, they introduced their local Chinese talent coming off from the CBA in Cai Chen. Although he may not have amassed big numbers during his CBA stint, Cai was feasting on buckets in the ABL as a stretch-four. In his first game against Hong Kong Eastern, he scored 15 points as a starter. After his 15-point performance, the rest was history as he tallied more points in succeeding games—putting up multiple 20-point and even 30-point performances throughout his 23-game run.
Besides being a menace on the lower end of the court, Cai can spread the floor at will and knock down shots from any distance. His combination of a rigid build and a hot trigger is something to be desired in today’s basketball. Despite his remarkable individual outings as a local with season averages of 19.7 points and 7.4 rebounds, he has yet to prove to the ABL that he can help the team bag a winning record or perhaps ensure a postseason berth; this is after the Wolf Warriors being dead last with only two wins last year.
Still, it is no wonder that a local of his caliber should be included among the top talents in the ABL and has what it takes to be a frontrunner for the Local MVP award. But the biggest challenge for Cai to be included among ABL’s elites is if he could help lift the Wolf Warriors from the depths this season.