HO CHI MINH — When San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas got swept by Hong Kong in last season’s Asean Basketball League, it didn’t had the luxury of having an NBA-caliber talent in Renaldo Balkman and a PBA champion import in Justin Brownlee.
Now that the two teams are set to square off again in the semifinals of the tournament, the pair’s arrival – which changed the complexion of the Philippine ballclub – might just spell the difference for the proud two-time champion.
Alab has gone 15-3 since the arrival of Balkman and Brownlee, and the Puerto Rico internationalist is confident of the Filipinos’ chances against the defending champions.
“It’s gonna be a show just like everyday and everynight. We go and give a show for our fans. It’s gonna be a good one,” said Balkman after Alab defeated Saigon Heat, 96-85, to sweep their quarterfinals series on Saturday night.
“They haven’t seen us. It will be the first time playing them, their first time playing against us, it’s gonna be a good one,” added the former New York Knick.
Balkaman, who showed amazing restraint amid a plethora of questionable calls in the Heat game, still finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds despite being in foul trouble, proof why he’s considered one of the best reinforcements in the league.
With Alab playing well, consistency will be the key for the former Denver Nuggets forward as he believes Hong Kong will be throwing everything at them come the semifinals, which begins on Wednesday.
“Us really, for us it’s being consistent, play hard, and play together. Our guys are the best at playing real well right now. If they keep it up, we can’t be stopped. We’ll take it one game at a time. We got another one, Game One on Wednesday, semifinals, baby,” said Balkman.
Not even the prospect of facing Christian Standhardinger, the PBA’s top rookie pick in the last draft, and the defending champions would dampen Balkman’s confidence in his team.
Sure, Hong Kong took it last year, but for Balkman, it doesn’t give the reigning champs any kind of advantage against this grizzled Alab squad but instead, it only gives the Filipinos a huge motivation, which the Puerto Rican and his crew will be aiming for.
“Listen, man. That was last year. It’s a whole new year. I’m really being honest to you. Last year, they won. This is a whole new year. They were the champions last year, but until they win again, we’re all fighting for the same thing, baby. They won, but it’s 0-0 on Wednesday”