COACH Mac Cuan likes the calm and confidence players are showing at Alab practices, saying he believes the struggles late in the eliminations helped them improve ahead of the ABL semifinals.
Cuan was pleased to see Alab stop a three-game slide by finally getting a win over the league-leading Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions, then end the elimination round with a rout of also-ran Kaohsiung.
Now they prepare for a showdown with the Singapore Slingers after splitting their four elimination-round games.
“We became a solid team,” head coach Mac Cuan said, who lauded the players for fighting through adversity with a loss to lowly Westports Malaysia Dragons in overtime and back-to-back defeats to Hong Kong.
“Kung ibang team ’yun, nagwatak-watak na, nagsisihan na,” Cuan said. “But with us, it didn’t happen. Kabaligtaran. Mas lalo kaming nag-bond together, mas lalo kaming naging close. Mas lalo namin tinulungan ang isa’t isa.”
The Long Lions rested import Josh Boone for the game, but Cuan said he saw something different with the Alab players that night that he believes led to the win and he hopes will continue for the rest of the campaign.
“It was big because I saw for the first time, ‘yung effort. Them talking on defense, starting strong, and just really wanting to win and making a stand. Most of our losses against Hong Kong, from the start, talo kami. But that game, with or without (Josh Boone, Hong Kong import), ‘yung linaro namin na ‘yun, we can beat Hong Kong,” said Cuan.
“I really think it was a blessing in disguise,” Cuan said, referring to the string of defeats. “I believe everything happens for a reason. I think ’yung sunud-sunod na talo namin made us a more solid team.
Cuan is so proud of the way the team has improved, and says he no longer considers Alab as just a team, but a family.
“With the travels, we have 10 away games. We are always together, we eat together. ‘Yung family feel na you have each other’s back already. Para na kaming magkakapatid. Outside the court, nagbibiruan na and comfortable na sa isa’t isa.
“We can say to anything to each other na walang nagkakapikunan. We can be honest with each other, constructive criticism, just to help each other get better,” he added.