Eight have tried. Eight have come up short.
Midway through the elimination round of ABL Season 9, no team has yet to defeat the defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in their home-court. For the second time, their fellow former champion Hong Kong Eastern will try to be the first.
Alab sits comfortably on top of the team standings with their 9-2 win-loss tally. They have not impressed with a single win against two losses on the road but they remain perfect at home. Hong Kong Eastern, on the other end, are at the fourth spot with a 9-7 record.
In their first meeting, the visiting team was heavily hampered by the foul troubles of their big man Sam Deguara. It was his much-anticipated match-up against fellow giant PJ Ramos but Deguara only managed 14 points and nine rebounds while his Alab counterpart dominated with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists en route to an 87-75 victory. In that game, the defending champions led by as much as 21 points while Hong Kong Eastern never took the driver’s seat.
Alab is coming off a victory against the Westports Malaysia Dragons to avenge one of their two defeats. Ramos is coming off a Best Player of the Game performance but the big question heading into their next contest is the health of two-time local MVP Ray Parks who did not see action against the Dragons with a groin injury.
Luckily for the Philippine team, another guard has been stepping up as of late as Ethan Alvano has played tremendously in the past few games, especially in setting up his teammates. However, the biggest problem for Hong Kong Eastern will remain to be Renaldo Balkman who will have no natural matchup among the imports of the visitors.
Hong Kong Eastern will be banking on their high-octane guards O’Darien Basset and Marcus Elliott and the support of Chan Siu Wing who torched the Dragons with 17 triples anchored on five triples to help his team get a 79-70 win.
Can the visiting Hong Kong Eastern get the first away win on Philippine soil this season or will Alab make it two for two against them?