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SINGAPORE – A test of character awaits Alab Pilipinas on Friday when it fights for dear life against the Singapore Slingers in the resumption of their best-of-three ASEAN Basketball League semifinal series at the Baliwag Star Arena in Bulacan.
Alab found the wrong time to play one of its worst games of the season as a rough start made it hard for coach Mac Cuan’s boys to erase a double-digit deficit that resulted in the Slingers drawing first blood, 77-67, at the OCBC Arena here.
The loss spoiled the debut of Kiefer Ravena, who had 16 points off the bench, even as Ray Parks Jr. went down with a sprained ankle in the third quarter. Import Sampson Carter struggled on offense with a 2-for-8 shooting while having difficulty guarding Slingers counterpart Xavier Alexander.
Cuan, who dealt a team that had its ups and downs during an 11-9 campaign in the four-round regular season, said Alab can’t afford another uninspiring performance with their season on the brink.
“It’s the same story the whole season. We can’t get over that discipline thing, talagang up and down,” Cuan told Manila-based reporters after the game.
“Second half we were catching up. We made two consecutive stops and then going back on offense, bad shot. Yun ang mga nakakainis na come playoff time, we can’t afford mistake like that dun ka talaga masasaktan,” he added.
Ravena is hoping that the team would display a fighting spirit at home as Alab tries to force a deciding third game this weekend for the right to face either the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions or Saigon Heat in the best-of-five finals.
“Yung sa mga ganito naman wala nang adjustments, kailangan na lang you have to find a way to win,” he said. “Kahit anung gawin mong gameplan, it’s a player’s game already. Whatever the coaches tell you, it’s up to you if you execute it or if you want to do it. Kailangan 110 percent nandun yun effort.”
Parks’ status for Game 2 remains uncertain as he has been also dealing with a injured right hip prior to his ankle sprain, but plans to use the break to make himself as healthy as possible.
“Our hopes are high. I’m glad Kiefer had a decent game, he’s still getting the flow of things. Everybody’s still adjusting but we got five days to get a second wind and tie the series,” Parks said. “We just had mental lapses that we need to work on together as a team. Me, I just need to do my job trying to get back on the floor as quickly as possible.”