By JONAS TERRADO
Tanduay-Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag believes his team’s victory over Gilas Pilipinas in a tune-up game over the weekend would serve as a momentum-builder heading into Sunday’s ASEAN Basketball League opener against the defending champion Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions.
Last year’s ABL semifinalist made a strong statement Saturday when it stunned an out-of-form Gilas squad, 81-76, at the Meralco gym despite missing import Ivan Johnson and reigning local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks Jr., a performance Alapag described as the best facing NCAA finalists San Beda and Lyceum in previous tune-ups.
Nigerian Reggie Okosa, Alab’s second world import, fired 21 points while Fil-American Lawrence Domingo and former National University playmaker Pao Javelona added 12 points each for Alab in its third scrimmage before the ABL season.
“I think it’s a huge confidence-builder for our guys,” Alapag said. “I think it was a great test for us with a week away from the opener. I think we can definitely build confidence from this and hopefully continue as we prepare for this coming week.”
Alab plays at home Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena against a Hong Kong team powered by Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who two weeks ago was chosen as the No. 1 overall pick by San Miguel in the PBA Rookie Draft.
Standhardinger is committed to fulfill his duties with the Long Lions before seeing action for the Beermen. Fans who will watch Sunday’s game will get a glimpse of what the 6-foot-7 is capable of doing once he makes it to the PBA.
Other members of Alab are former PBA veterans Dondon Hontiveros, Rico Maierhofer and Josh Urbiztondo, Pamboy Raymundo, Robby Celiz, Oping Sumalinog, and Jay-R Alabanza.
“Kailangan we just continue with the progress, continue improving,” Alapag said. “But again I’m really happy with the group of guys we have. Masipag sila. I’ve really liked their focus in practice.
“They understand yung challenge namin next Sunday against Hong Kong. They’re a tough team. We have to be ready and I thought (our game against Gilas) was a good step in the right direction,” he added.