The Playoffs are officially underway in the ASEAN Basketball League, as the third-seed San Miguel Alab Pilipinas host the visiting sixth-seed Saigon Heat on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, Philippines.
Game time is set for 8PM local time.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas narrowly missed out on an outright Semis birth, as Chong Son Kung Fu took care of business in their final game, defeating Hong Kong Eastern. Because of a superior three-way tiebreaking record, Hong Kong Eastern took the second seed, relegating Alab Pilipinas to a longer route in the Playoffs.
The squad finished the regular season with a 14-6 record and will have home court advantage against the Heat who finished with a 10-10 slate. They also swept Saigon in their two matches in the elimination round, winning 95-87 in their first contest, then 126-100 in the second match.
However the Heat, winners of three of their last four games, have a ton of confidence heading into the big dance. Their crop of talented imports can score with any lineup in the ABL, and with time to rest in between games, that should be a huge factor as the Heat often go with seven man rotations in games.
Saigon will be led by talented World Import Akeem Scott. In 20 regular season games, Scott has been a one-man wrecking crew, averaging 24.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals Whenever the Heat needed a basket or looked like they were down for the count, Scott would single-handedly keep his team in contention. As a result, he set a new individual scoring record, eclipsing the mark set by reigning World MVP Marcus Elliott last season.
Flanking Scott is lanky big man Maxie Esho. Esho has a never-ending motor that gets a lot of rebounds and second chance opportunities for his team. He is their leading scorer in points and rebounds, tallying 26.1 points, 11 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. He is seemingly all over the court. He is the perfect complement for Scott, Moses Morgan, David Arnold, and Mikey Williams because of his hustle .
While Saigon will lean on their superstars, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will look to counter with their depth supporting their talented World Import duo led by Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee.
Leading the charge will be reigning Local MVP Ray Parks Jr, as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing finish to his ABL campaign last season. With Parks leading the charge, Alab was swept in two games, with Parks missing the finale because of an injury. Now, he’s in the right situation and ready to change the ending. His 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists show just how well-rounded Parks has been all season long.
However the spotlight this season will shine brightly on Balkman and Brownlee. Since joining the team to start 2018, the team took off and almost narrowly missed out on a top two seed.
Brownlee’s 21.2 points per game are of the quiet variety, doing most of his damage via perimeter based attacks and slashes inside. Balkman is the exact opposite. One of the leaders of the squad, he reacts to what the defense gives him, and crashes the boards with ferocity, evidenced by his 10.8 rebounds per contest.
The intriguing matchups on both sides will definitely make this Quarterfinals matchup one of the more compelling ones this season. Which team will be able to get the crucial first win in this short series? Find out tonight, 8PM as the Playoffs arrive in the ABL.