JIMMY Alapag said Christian Standhardinger remains the biggest obstacle in San Miguel Alab Pilipinas' bid for the Asean Basketball League (ABL) crown, as the semifinal battle between the Philippine squad and the Fil-German forward-led Hong Kong Eastern kicks off on Wednesday.
Alab lost to the reigning champions early in the season, but now parade two new imports in Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman and have won 13 of the last 16 games to reach the semis. But Alapag insisted Standhardinger remains a big problem for the Philippine team.
"Of course, they got Christian over there, too. We’re gonna have our hands full but I told the guys, let’s give ourselves an opportunity after tonight to play against the defending champs," said Alapag, who was quick to add that Alab has no plans of backing down against the host in the best-of-three affair that starts at 8 p.m in Hong Kong’s Southorn Stadium.
"Anytime that you get a chance to win the championship, you got to play the best and you got to beat the best. We’ll get our chance on Wednesday," he added.
Alapag also believes that the Saigon Heat quarterfinals series was the perfect preparation for their semifinals clash against Hong Kong.
Alab may have swept Saigon, but the similarities are there particularly when it comes to great perimeter players.
After dealing with the likes of Akeem Scott and Mikey Williams and Moses Morgan, Alab now shifts its focus to stopping Tyler Lamb, Ryan Moss and Marcus Elliot, a task that will be easier said than done.
"Oh definitely. This prepared us for this. Saigon has so many great guards, you talk about Scott, Morgan, Williams, and Hong Kong is very similar with Elliott and Lamb," said Alapag.
Yet even with their success with the Balkman-Brownlee tandem, Alapag believes that until they prove otherwise, Alab remains the underdog against the reigning titleholders.
"They’re the defending champs and we’re much, much different team compared to we were in the first half of the season. At the same time ... they have home court advantage."