With the streaking Formosa Dreamers threatening to steal the top spot away from the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, the defending champion are now in need of a win on the road against the Macau Black Bears.
This will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams with Alab holding a 2-1 advantage as they won both their meetings in the Philippines.
The defending champions have been unbeatable at home at a perfect 12-0. However, they’ve been vulnerable on the road as they barely over .500 at six wins and five defeats. This is why retaining the number 1 spot is of utmost value to them because finishing on top of the standings will give them home-court advantage in the entire playoffs.
For Macau, this game is also important because they can still finish in the top four. They are currently a couple of wins behind the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia but it’s something they can manage to overcome if they rally late in the elimination round.
In their last game, the Black Bears suffered a tough loss to the desperate Mono Vampire Basketball Club, a team that is still trying to lock up a playoff spot. Mono Vampire looked like the more cohesive team as they shared the ball better and dominated in scoring inside the shaded area.
Macau was finally able to find a replacement for the injured Anthony Tucker and they found a good one in Dewarick Spencer who hit the ground running on his ABL debut. His addition alleviates the pressure on Mikh McKinney to power their offense as Spencer is an able scorer and also a willing passer who will only be more effective with more practices and games under his belt.
Still, McKinney will remain to be a focal part of Macau’s system specially against the team he dropped 50 points on in their last meeting. The Filipino-American guard knows what it takes to score against Alab’s defense and he’ll surely be locked and loaded for their final elimination round matchup.
The key battle in this game will the inside in PJ Ramos and Ryan Watkins. While Alab’s hulking import can bully his way inside, Watkins has proven to be a steady shooter from the perimeter and if he can draw out the defense of Ramos, he’ll open things up for the rest of his teammates.
The big issue for Alab right now is health. They’ve been playing hard for the entire tournament and it seems like this is finally catching up with them. They lost an important player in Lawrence Domingo with a knee injury and played with a very limited rotation in their loss to the Formosa Dreamers as they were also without Caelan Tiongson and Renaldo Balkman.
Alab will once again bank on their pair of able guards in Ray Parks and Ethan Alvano who stepped up in their last loss. If the two can get it going, then a bounce-back win is definitely possible for the champs but there’s no room for error and no space for a poor game for any of their main players as they take on the Black Bears for the final time.