JOSH Urbiztondo seeks to win the Asean Basketball League title not just for his current team, the Singapore Slingers, but also for the Filipino fans as the finals series of the regional basketball league begins on Black Saturday.
Urbiztondo and the rest of the Slingers play on the road against the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions on Saturday night at the Southorn Stadium in Game One of the best-of-five series for the ABL crown.
Game One is set at 8 p.m.
As the last Filipino standing in this ABL season, Urbiztondo wants to win the title for the Filipino fans who have supported him even though he plays for the same Singapore-based team that eliminated Alab Pilipinas in the semifinal round.
“It’s a humbling experience for me going back to the finals,” Urbiztondo said. “I’m not only fighting for me. I’m also fighting for all Filipinos. Even though we beat them (in the semifinals), all the fans and my family behind me, I’ll be leaving it out there for them.”
Urbiztondo even hopes Filipino fans based in Singapore will also come to the OCBC Arena when the finals series shifts to the island nation for Game 3 and, if needed, Game 4.
“We have a lot of Filipinos in Singapore. Hopefully, we have a great crowd and they support us,” Urbiztondo said.
The Fil-Am guard sparked the Slingers in Game Two of the ABL semifinals against Alab Pilipinas last week in Baliwag, Bulacan after he contributed 20 points, five rebounds, and six assists in the finals-clinching win.
Urbiztondo admitted playing against a Philippine team in front of a Filipino crowd gave him enough motivation to perform well.
“As a player, we approach the game the same way every game. But of course, it’s the Philippines and I was teammates with a couple of them. It just brings a little bit of spark and intensity to it. It motivates me, of course. It was definitely fun playing against the Philippines and playing against my old teammates,” said Urbiztondo.
Winning the ABL crown, however, won’t be easy for Singapore. Aside from not having the homecourt advantage, Singapore will be up against a Hong Kong team that lost just four times this season. Two of the losses, however, came against the Slingers.
But Urbiztondo is confident that winning the title at the expense of the top team in the league is doable.
“I think we have a great chance. If we play defense, communicate out there, and play for one another, I think we can give Singapore its first ABL title,” said Urbiztondo.