The road to defending the ABL title has officially begun for Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, as they take on San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Semi-Finals.
Gametime is set for 8PM at the Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
Despite the sterling 14-6 record, Hong Kong Eastern had a tough finish to their season, winning only two out of their last six games. But it could be a matter of a tired team just waiting for the playoffs to begin.
Coach Edu Torres also confided that his team is battling through some injuries, “We’ll use the break to heal some minor injuries but there’s a lot of work to be done.” the Eastern Head Coach said. However Hong Kong Eastern swept San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the regular season which allowed them to still finish with a top two seed and home court advantage in the Semis. That could be huge against Alab Pilipinas, which is entering the series with a ton of confidence after sweeping the Saigon Heat in the Quarterfinals.
Eastern is still led the reigning World MVP, Marcus Elliott. With averages of 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists, it’s time for the reigning World MVP to make his mark on the ABL once again. Marcus Elliott has submitted another excellent season, and is now determined to bring his squad back to the Finals. He has been a triple double threat all season long, and his versatility makes him such a dangerous player and difficult to cover.
Alongside Elliott will be fellow MVP, Tyler Lamb. The sweet shooting Tyler Lamb has been on fire all season long, with averages of 23.1 points on 3.3 made triples per contest, to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists. In his second season with the team, Lamb has taken on more of a leadership role, especially down the stretch when he needs to hit big shots. Can Lamb rise to the occasion for Hong Kong Eastern once again?
Despite taking on the defending champions, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas has a lot of confidence heading into their matchup.The team is fired up after an impressive Quarterfinals performance, in which they swept the tough Saigon Heat in two games. According to World Import Renaldo Balkman, his squad is ready to dethrone the defending champions.
“This is a whole new year,” Balkman said. “They were the champions last year, but until they win again, we’re all fighting for the same thing. They won, but it’s 0-0 on Wednesday.”
The reigning Local MVP gets his first taste of the Semis against Hong Kong Eastern. Parks saw his squad get eliminated early in the Playoffs last season, but it was a completely different situation this year. Parks has taken a backseat in terms of scoring to Balkman and Brownlee, but he has done a little bit of everything else. He’s the swiss army knife of Alab Pilipinas.
Balkman has reason to be confident because of how well his team has played, particularly in the Playoffs. In the Quarterfinals, Balkman normed 19 points, 16 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals in two games against the Heat. He continues to make San Miguel Alab Pilipinas so dangerous with his length and defensive instincts. He’s also a ferocious rebounder that can get anything coming his way.
Another player that’s determined to submit a good performance for his squad is Local MVP Ray Parks. One of the few holdovers from the team last season, Parks has been solid all season long, turning in another MVP caliber performance. He averaged 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the Quarterfinals against the Heat.
Hong kong Eastern may have swept San Miguel Alab Pipilinas in the regular season, but the team was very different. There was no Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee yet anchoring the squad. Can they take care of business at home in Game 1, or will San Miguel win a huge match on the road?