San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and Mono Vampire Basketball Club make their way to Thailand as the ABL Finals reach a critical turning point.
For the next two games, Alab and Mono will slug it out inside Stadium 29 for the right to hoist the ABL trophy.
There is no question that Mono will want to capitalize on their homcourt advantage after snatching a win in the Philippines in Game 2 last Sunday. They will try to end the series in front of their fans and avoid a winner-take-all Game 5 at their opponent’s backyard.
Alab meanwhile will try reclaim the homecourt edge and put themselves in a better position to win the crown. It will be a daunting task however as the next two games will be played in front of a boisterous Thailand crowd.
“Get one in Thailand,” coach Jimmy Alapag said with conviction about the team’s mindset. “That’s our whole focus - try to get one on Saturday and give ourselves an opportunity to bring it back home. Not looking anything further past Saturday.”
In Game 2 last Sunday, Alab was hit by a monster truck otherwise known as Sam Deguara. Mono’s prized center was on a league of his own posting a line of 30 points and 20 rebounds in their 103-100 victory.
To make matters worse for Alab, World Import Justin Brownlee was unable to play in the fourth quarter due to injury.
“He cramped towards the end of the game and I didn’t want to risk [it],” Alapag explained last Sunday. “It was a pretty bad cramp so you couldn’t really move well, and at that point of the game I don’t want to risk it further.”
If Brownlee isn’t a 100 percent or worse, unable to play, things will look bleak for the Philippine squad. Nonetheless, Alab will still have an ace up their sleeve with Renaldo Balkman.
” Listen, man, it’s not over, it’s not over yet, man,” the season’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year vowed. ” I mean, this what basketball is about. You come here, it’s [the] playoff games.”
Balkman has been nothing short of spectacular in his first ABL season. Along with Brownlee, they steered Alab from the bottom of the standing to a seat in the Finals. Balkman racked up impressive numbers that even earned him a World Import MVP nomination. As Alab is currently faced with adversity in the Finals, you can be sure that Balkman is up to the challenge.
“We gotta go to their gym and win a game too. We can’t hold our heads down, we gotta keep being positive, keep focus on our goal,” Balkman confidently said. “Listen man, it’s gonna be another game on Saturday, you know. And in our eyes it’s 0-0 right now. We gotta go on their gym and steal one or two over there.”
As the old sports adage goes, Alapag and his team are looking to take things “one game at a time.” Going on the road and trying to steal a game or two will be a challenging task for the Philippine team.
“I told the guys we got a dogfight in our hands,” relayed Alapag. “All of our focus now is trying to get better as we get ready for Game 3 on Saturday.”