San Miguel Alab Pilipinas opens its title-retention bid in the ASEAN Basketball League with a relatively soft stretch of games that includes 5 assignments against teams that did not make it past the elimination round last season.
Alab starts its campaign with a home-and-away series against CLS Knights, welcoming the Indonesian club at Santa Rosa Multi Purpose Complex in Laguna on December 9 before traveling to the port city of Surabaya on December 16.
After a December 21 date with Formosa Dreamers, the team that finished with the worst record in the 2017-18 season, coach Jimmy Alapag and his crew battle quarterfinalist Singapore Slingers on December 23 before going on a holiday break.
The Filipino club returns to action with a game against expansion side Zhuhai Wolf Warriors on January 6, before taking on Westports Malaysia Dragons on January 9.
Dragons (5-15) tied Knights (5-15) for the second-worst record last season behind Dreamers, which lost all but one of their 20 games.
Alab’s January 11 assignment will be Ray Parks Jr. and co.’s first real test when they face Hong Kong Eastern, the club Christian Standhardinger played for before debuting for San Miguel Beer in the PBA.
Alab swept Eastern 2-0 in the semifinals to advance to the title series.
On January 13, Alab travels to Changhua city to play Dreamers.
Alapag’s squad will meet Thailand club Mono Vampire on January 20, the first time the two teams will meet after they battled in a 5-game series that went the full route and saw Alab emerge with the championship.
That will be a home game for Alab at a venue that hasn’t been determined. Mono’s turn to host Alab will be on February 23 at Stadium 29 in Bangkok.
From 20 games last season, the calendar has been stretched to 26 this time, 13 each at home and away.
Chong Son Kung Fu, which ended up with the best record in the preliminaries in the previous campaign, has been rebranded the Macau Black Bears. Alab challenges them for the first time on January 18 at home.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)