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Alab hope springs eternal

Alab Pilipinas coach Mac Cuan is not losing hope his team can still pull it off against the Singapore Slingers in their best-of-three semis matchup in the 2017 Asean Basketball League.

Cuan said losing Ray Parks and Jeric Fortuna to injuries last Sunday will give the others the chance to deliver.

“It will be the next man up,” said the former La Salle Green Archer.

The Alab dribblers dropped a 77-67 decision at the OCBC Arena in Singapore, and must now win two in a row to make it to the finals of the six-team tournament.

“Without sounding cocky or over-confident I honestly don’t think Singapore can beat us if we play to our full potential,” said Cuan in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.

Game 2 will be played Friday at the Star Arena in Baliwag, Bulacan.

Cuan said he knows the Singapore team well enough for him to remain confident that Alab, with imports James Hughes and Sampson Carter and Kiefer Ravena, can still make it.

“I’ve studied this Singapore team and I think it’s not that easy to defend against this team. They’re not as athletic as the Hong Kong team,” he said in the public sports program presented by San Miguel Corp., Golden Phoenix Hotel, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions and the Saigon Heat will play their series opener Wednesday in Hong Kong.

Cuan presided over team practice Tuesday morning, and reminded his players that the key to victory will be their defense, particularly on Singapore’s Xavier Alexander who scored 24 points in the opener.

“We need the discipline on defense. We had a game plan but we deviated from the plan. We let Alexander score 24 points. The plan was to challenge his shots but we did not close out on him” said the Alab coach.

Cuan, who was an assistant coach for the San Miguel Beermen when they won the ABL title in 2013, said the Alab players must work double hard on defense.

“We must not give them (Slingers) the space,” he said.

Alab Pilipinas is out to regain lost pride for the country in the ABL following an unceremonious exit last year. The Philippines won the ABL crown twice (2009 and 2013) and finished runner-up twice (2010 and 2012).

“It’s really about our locals stepping up and our shooters must hit their open shots so Singapore’s defense cannot collapse on us. It’s a do-or-die game for us on Friday,” said Cuan.