Cuan overcomes personal adversity to lead Alab to three wins - then sees players follow his lead
JR Cawaling played his best game for Alab, a day after his brother's death while head coach Mac Cuan joined the team in Malaysia while his newborn was confined in a hospital. Photo from ABL

ALAB Pilipinas coach Mac Cuan lauded his players for their professionalism for playing through personal adversities and responding well despite their recent trials.

The Philippine-based side is coming off a 65-54 win over Westports Malaysia Dragons last Sunday in the Asean Basketball League to pick up their third straight win and improve to a 5-2 win-loss record.

Alab has now jumped to a share of second place in the standings with Hong Kong, a team which the Philippine squad will face on the road on Sunday.

Saturday's win came at a time when JR Cawaling was still grieving over the death of his older brother who passed away the day before the match due to an enlarged heart.

Before the game, Cuan urged the team to honor Cawaling’s decision to join the team with a victory.

“I actually talked to the team before the game and I told them, JR could have been with his sick and dying brother but he chose to be a professional and be with the team,” said Cuan.

[See Grieving Cawaling plays best game for Alab, a day after brother's death]

Even Cuan was also dealing with personal adversities as his newborn baby was sick the weekend of the match against the Dragons.

“I could have also been with my sick baby who is confined in the hospital but I’m with them. All I’m asking is to make the trip worth it and make the sacrifices count. Buti nag-respond naman,” said Cuan, who immediately flew back to Manila following the game to attend to his son.

Alab played perhaps their best game of the season with a balanced effort from the starters to the bench, with Cawaling leading the team in scoring with 11 points including the critical triple that sealed the victory.

Ray Parks Jr. had a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds, while Sampson Carter had nine points and nine rebounds for Alab. Hans Thiele also played quality minutes as he had six points and seven boards.

“I wanted a statement game,” said Cuan.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports