KUALA LUMPUR — Kris Rosales has been turning heads and drawing interest from PBA teams with his impressive stint this season in the ABL, especially after he sparked the Singapore Slingers' Game One win of the finals series against the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
The guard from Hope International University finished with 13 points on Friday night at the MABA Stadium, but his most notable contribution was on the other end of the floor. The 25-year-old Rosales showcased his defensive skills, shadowing Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright in the second half to limit him to just two points, after making 20 in the first half.
By limiting the highly-touted Wright, the league’s top Asean import scorer, the Slingers got enough momentum late in the game to beat the Dragons and steal homecourt advantage in the series, 84-80.
“That was just the focus, to shut down Wright. That’s my job so I try to stick with him, try to deny him the ball so he couldn’t get it or have an opportunity to score. That was my main focus,” said Rosales, who contained Wright to just 1-of-5 from the field after the break.
Rosales admitted his skills, including on the defensive end, has improved because of his stint in the ABL, while he remains hopeful that he could finally make it to the PBA after being drafted in second round by Barako Bull last year but was left unsigned.
“The ABL has helped me a lot. The coaches have helped me develop my game, my fundamentals and my defense. They gave me a lot of playing time. It’s really hard to get better if you don’t play a lot. It allowed me to just give it all as a player. I put myself in pressure situations and I’ve learned a lot,” said Rosales.
But despite being glad he's finally getting noticed by four PBA teams who are said to have already expressed interest in his services, the Fil-American said his main focus is to win the title for Slingers, who are gunning for their first-ever ABL title.
“That’s always the goal, to go back to the Philippines and play there. But right now, all I can think is to win this championship for Singapore, for the fans, and for the team. Being able to play in the finals, it’s a blessing,” said Rosales, who had also played in the PBA D-League before applying for the draft.
Meanwhile, Singapore coach Neo Beng Siang was for his ward who played well even with an injured finger he sustained in the ABL semifinal series against Hi-Tech Bangkok City.
“I’m proud of him,” Neo said. “He did a good job sticking to our game plan. He is still recovering from the injury but he is playing through pain.”
Despite being the lone Filipino in the Slingers, Rosales said he enjoyed being with the team and living in the city, enough reasons to fuel his quest to help give Singapore an ABL crown.
“It’s interesting but I live with the two American imports and they make me feel at home. I learned a lot about the Singapore culture and all my teammates, we go out to eat, teach me some of the language. I don’t feel too lonely because everyone is welcoming,” Rosales said.
“It’s been fun. I love Singapore, the fans there and the coaches, they have faith in me. My teammates, we get along. It’s been really fun. I kinda started slow this season but I kept my faith and just kept working hard and eventually got my rhythm, found my niche, and was able to produce and help my team win,” said Rosales.
Game Two is set on Sunday here in the Malaysian capital before the series shifts to OCBC Arena in Singapore for Games Three (March 18) and, if needed, Four (March 20).