The ongoing playoff battle between the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and Saigon Heat boasts star-studded lineups.
The Heat’s starting five brings a deadly combination of speed, athleticism, versatility, and a whole lot of attitude. From point guard Akeem Scott, to scoring machine Maxie Esho, and the incredible shooting of Mikey Williams and Moses Morgan, they are a formidable unit.
On the other hand, Alab Pilipinas has their duo of Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. They are the 1-2 punch, a pair of offensive juggernauts who have been the team’s primary source of offense. Then there’s Ray Parks, last season’s Local MVP, who has expanded his game to new heights this season.
In the seismic Game 1 encounter of Alab and the Heat last Sunday, there was also someone else who took some of the spotlight.
Lawrence Domingo came off the bench and had his best outing of the season to produce 18 points and 6 rebounds. Against the gaudy frontline of Saigon, Domingo outworked and outhustled everyone for his numbers.
“I wanted to do what is needed by the team, you know? Coach [Jimmy Alapag] put us in a position where my energy will help up a lot,” Domingo humbly said about his output. “I tried to come in the game with high energy, play defense and my offense will just fall into place.”
“We got guys like Balkman and Brownlee creating for us, finding us in the cut. That’s when I step in – when they hit me with the drop pass,” he went on.
Heading into the playoffs, the Filipino-American had modest averages of 6.1 points per game. However, what has been consistent for him — and has always been one of his calling cards — is his rebounding. Despite being relatively shorter than most big men in the league, his never-ending motor produces 5.6 rebounds a night, including 3.4 from the offensive glass. He is a tenacious workhorse who gets a lot of second chance opportunities for his team.
As Alab’s lone Heritage Import and usually coming in as a power forward, Domingo is often tasked to guard bigger and stronger opponents. He had to weave his way through the 6-foot-9 frame of Maxie Esho and the long arms of 6-foot-6 Moses Morgan in Game 1. And because he always operates in the paint, going in-your-face against the Heat frontline was a must.
“Us and Saigon, we play physical together. It gets real intense between us but that is when basketball becomes fun,” he said about Game 1’s level of physicality. “If we play through it and stay within ourselves, we’ll come out on top.”
Domingo and the rest of Alab Pilipinas will now try to carry the momentum of their first ever franchise playoff win and take care of business in Saigon for Game 2.
“Whatever coach needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. My role in this team is to basically come and bring energy,” he shared. “I’m not focused on wanting to score, that’s not my game. But if the team needs me to do it, I’ll step up and do it.”