The Westports Malaysia Dragons and Tanduay Alab Pilipinas ring in the new year of ABL action, as they collide for the first time this season.
Gameday is set for 8:00PM at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City, Philippines.
The Dragons have been idle since December 2, a 107-90 loss to Mono Vampire Basketball Club. But they have been busy since that game, making roster moves with the purpose of strengthening their roster. They brought back last season’s Heritage Import in Joshua Munzon, who replaces Reil Cervantes. Munzon was one of the best defensive players in the ABL last season, as he averaged 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and a whopping 3.2 steals per game.
Joining Munzon in making their season debut in the ABL is new import AJ West. The former University of Nevada player replaces Curtis Washington, who only played two games before being replaced. West previously played in Lithuania for BC Siauilai, and will be counted on to anchor the paint for the Dragons.
They play a Tanduay Alab Pilipinas squad that is looking to start a winning streak of their own, after finally picking up their first win of the season against the Formosa Dreamers. Their 78-61 over the Taiwan-based squad snapped a three game losing streak, which they hope they left behind in 2017.
Similar to the Dragons, Alab has been busy as well, as they made wholesale changes to their World Imports.
Replacing Reggie Okosa and Ivan Johnson are new imports Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee. The 33-year old Balkman is a veteran of the NBA, playing six seasons with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. He also stints in Latin America, Puerto Rico, Mexico and with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League.
Justin Brownlee is also an experienced World Import, who played in St. John’s University in college, then went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft. However Brownlee made his name as a beloved player in the Philippines playing for Barangay Ginebra. The 2.01m Brownlee helped the team win two titles in the PBA, most recently in a thrilling seven game series in October 2017.
Balkman and Brownlee will look to provide energy and all-around play for an Alab squad that has high hopes this season. The Dragons on the other hand are eager to return to return to the Playoffs after only two seasons removed from winning their first title in the ABL. Which team will start the year on the right foot?