SAN Miguel Alab Pilipinas looks to protect homecourt and get into the hill early when it takes on Mono Vampire in Game Two of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Finals on Wednesday at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.
Alab fended off the visiting Thai squad in overtime, 143-130, on Sunday behind the heroics of Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman in the highest-scoring game in league history - something that didn't sit well with Balkman.
“I don’t think we played the way we’re supposed to play. Even though we scored 143 points, we’re a defensive team and that shouldn’t be happening with us,” said Balkman, who finished with 39 points and 15 rebounds in the win.
“We won the game but that’s not us. We’ve never given up that many points this whole year. We got to get back there and say, we can’t give them 130 points. That’s too much for us,” he added.
If there’s one good takeaway from the match for Alab, it’s their resilience in the face of a tough stand by Mono – especially after the Philippine side went down by four with 19 seconds to go in regulation.
After all the adversity they had to overcome this season, from a winless start to a change of management, that mental toughness doesn’t surprise coach Jimmy Alapag anymore.
“That’s a staple for us this season. We have a very resilient group and guys who continue to fight. We showcased that being down four,” said Alapag, who tipped his hat off to Mono for setting the tone in Game One.
“Credit to Mono. They came out and played extremely well. Credit to coach (Douglas) Marty for coming out with a great game plan. Early in the game, they really had us on our heels,” he added.
While the Thai team fell short in the series opener, there are a lot of positive takeaways for coach Marty – the pace of the game for one.
Mono has made a reputation as a team which likes to push the tempo and get as many possessions as possible. It was something that they’ve done to near perfection in Game One and it was evident in the scorecard.
But even Marty knows that giving up 143 points in 45 minutes of basketball is just too much even by their standards.
“That’s definitely too much. That’s a lot of points. We’re gonna have to bring that number way down if we want to get a victory,” said Marty.
“Our philosophy was never to just try and outscore people. We always emphasize defense because you’re not gonna win without it. You can get some wins but you’re not gonna win championships without it,” he added.
But while both teams are looking forward to a defensive game in Game Two, Marty expects the pace to kick up, especially since Mono has a dance partner that’s more than willing to run and gun with them in this series.
“I remember the first game we played them in Bangkok, they ran us off the floor,” Marty continued. “They can play that way and we like to play that way. It’s a good match-up, interesting match-up in a lot of ways. They can play fast, that’s for sure.”