MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will play with an almost entirely new squad in the upcoming season of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), as several of the holdovers from last year's campaign have bid the team goodbye.
Ray Parks Jr. is already plying his trade in the PBA, while Renaldo Balkman is out as their import after returning home to Puerto Rico to take care of some family issues.
Alab unveiled its lineup on Tuesday morning, with Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser as the only remaining players from last season's squad.
Head coach Jimmy Alapag is happy with his revamped roster, however, and believes they can compete at a high level this season after failing to defend their crown last year.
"The guys are getting more familiar with one another. Of course, kasama 'yung mga local guys. I’m really, really happy with this group," said Alapag on Monday night.
"Sipag sila, high character guys and again guys who enjoy playing the game of basketball together," he added. "And again, we gonna need that chemistry and camaraderie as a team if we wanna be successful."
Alab gave its head coach reason to be optimistic on Monday night, when it held off the Philippine national team, 93-89, in a tune-up game at the Meralco Gym. That came a week after bowing to Gilas Pilipinas, 98-95, in the same venue.
Playing for Alab in that game was Nick King, who replaced Balkman in the lineup. Jason Brickman also saw action in the contest, along with another import in Khalif Wyatt.
"I was really happy with the guys' effort," said Alapag. "We really wanted to maximize the tune-up game considering that it’s our last game leading into our season opener on Sunday."
"I'm really happy with the execution, the effort, and the unselfishness," he added. "We had 25 assists as a team, and that's really got to be the staple for us going forward."
Alab Pilipinas opens its campaign on the road on Sunday, when they take on Mono Vampire at Stadium 29 in Thailand.
"Big test for us to start the season," said Alapag. "But I told the guys after tonight, if we play with unselfish mentality like we did tonight, and play with the same effort, we'll give ourselves a chance."
Alab's home opener is on December 15 against the Singapore Slingers at the Sta. Rosa Multi Purpose Sports Complex.
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