After stumbling on the road in their last game, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is now out to defend their home-court against the Saigon Heat, Sunday evening at the Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex.
With Taipei Fubon playing a game on the road against the Singapore Slingers earlier in the day, Alab can claim the second spot if the Braves lose and they take care of business against the Heat. The Philippine team currently holds an 8-5 win-loss tally, right behind Taipei Fubon’s 95.
Saigon, on the other end, picked up an important win in their last game as they added to their win total at 3-9 right now, midway through their elimination round schedule.
Alab came out flat against the Kuala Lumpur Dragons in their last game and they were not able to gain their rhythm throughout the 40 minutes of action. With the Dragons converting on their first three attempts from deep, Alab was on the back-foot early and they ended up absorbing a brutal 91-63 beatdown. Kuala Lumpur also made sure that Alab paid for most of their mistakes by turning 17 turnovers into 20 points.
The biggest reason for Alab’s struggles in their last game was because Jason Brickman failed to provide his regular numbers. He was a key factor in their back-to-back wins against Mono Vampire and the Singapore Slingers in their games last week, averaging 24.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Against the Dragons, Brickman only had two points, a rebound, and six assists, only taking six shots in the whole game.
Nick King and Sam Deguara also did not have a lot of success against the defense of the Dragons. Deguara was a liability on their own defensive schemes as the Dragons employ a system that is built on the speed of their movement and crisp passing. With Kuala Lumpur’s bigs also being threats from the outside, Deguara was not able to pick up his usual numbers in the shaded area with only 10 points in the game while committing five turnovers. King was not much better with 13 points.
For Alab to find the consistency they have been looking for, they need to get more from their newest World Import in Prince Williams. His norms of 11.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists are simply not enough, especially when his teammates struggle on offense.
The Heat are coming off a victory against the same opponent as it was Kuala Lumpur that was not able to play their regular game. With only one full day of rest separating their games against Alab and the Heat, the Dragons may have taken Saigon too lightly as they were coming off a five-game losing skid. The Heat took full advantage of the opportunity by picking up a 79-72 victory. Similar to how the Dragons defeated Alab, Saigon also did a great job in converting their opponents’ turnovers into points. Kuala Lumpur gave the ball up only nine times in the game but the Heat scored 16 points off turnovers, which means their conversion rate was almost at 100%.
Sam Thompson missed their last game against the Mono Vampire but was back with a vengeance for the Heat. He has been the leader of the squad throughout this tumultuous season and he produced a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
It took them a while but replacement World Imports Tyshawn Taylor and Malcolm White finally picked up their first win as a member of the Heat. The two have shown great chemistry together as they often combined for highlight plays to inject much-needed energy into their squad. The two also picked up double-doubles for Saigon as White had 21 points and 11 rebounds while Taylor chipped in 18 points and 10 assists.
However, even if their reinforcements played well in the game, the X-factor for the Heat was their local big man in Chris Dierker. He produced his season-high 15 points in that win, which was only his third double-digit scoring performance. Dierker introduced himself to Filipino basketball fans by leading the fight for Vietnam in their South East Asian Games meeting against the Philippine national team and he surely is looking for an encore performance.