HOBBLING heading into the 2019 ASEAN Basketball League playoffs, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is set to parade an almost full roster when it begins its title-retention quest against Hong Kong Eastern in Game 1 of its best-of-three quarterfinals on Friday at Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos are set to reunite for the first time in three weeks as the defending champions had to play their last four games with only one World Import.
Alab coach Jimmy Alapag is confident that despite his side suffering a four-game slide to end the eliminations, the Filipinos will be ready to draw first blood in the 8 p.m. duel.
So does reigning two-time ABL Local MVP Bobby Ray Parks, who isn't really bothered with his crew's recent struggles.
"It's the next man up mentality for us. We're trying to make do with the bodies that we have to compete and that's what we've been doing," he said.
Two-seed Alab won the season series, 3-1, but the 7-seed Hong Kong Eastern took the last duel, 88-83 back in Feb. 13.
It will also be a completely different Hong Kong squad from the last time these two squads faced off, with Maltese giant Sam Deguara released.
Imports Marcus Elliott, O'Darien Bassett and Michael Holyfield will lead the fight for Eastern in this series opener.