STA. ROSA - San Miguel Alab Pilipinas isn't losing sleep over getting stripped of the top seed heading to the 2019 Asean Basketball League (ABL) playoffs.
"The only goal is to be at the end," said Alab coach Jimmy Alapag. "That’s always the goal, to get to the end. You get to the end, you get to the top of the mountain, and you see what happens when you get there."
Alab slipped from the top spot for the first time this season after falling to Formosa Dreamers, 88-74 on Sunday as the defending champions suffered their first home defeat of the season.
The loss sent the Philippine side to an 18-7 win-loss record, a game behind the Dreamers with only one game remaining in the regular season.
For Alapag, the top seed doesn't really amount to anything except for the outright homecourt advantage.
"It’s tough enough to get to that championship, but that’s always the goal, [it's] not to win the regular season championship. The ABL doesn’t give trophies for the regular season championship," he said.
One guy who knows just that is Alab forward Caelan Tiongson, who was part of last season's top seed Chong Son Kung Fu. The Taiwanese team failed to win the crown.
"No one's excited about winning first place in the regular season," he attested. "I'll be the first one to tell you that. I won first place last year, but we didn't get the championship last year and Alab is an organization that has a championship."
What Alab concerns itself more is getting players healthy in time for its playoff run. Renaldo Balkman still on his way to recovery from a nasal reconsruction surgery while Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser are dealing with knee injuries.
And that's the main thing on Alapag's cupboard at the moment.
"Again, our plan is to get healthy. We'll use this next 12 days before the playoffs start to make sure that we’re sharp and playing great basketball," said Alapag, whose team wraps up its eliminations assignment on Sunday against Saigon Heat.