10 Questions with Alab Pilipinas’ Lawrence Domingo
Ceej Tantengco on Jan 17, 2017 10:53 AM
"If you look at our wins, and even our losses and how close they are, you can see we’re gonna be a good team—a team you can’t just take lightly." - Lawrence Domingo
When the ASEAN Basketball League began, most players on the Alab Pilipinas roster were already familiar to Pinoy fans that follow the UAAP, NCAA and PBA. In contrast, ASEAN Heritage import Lawrence Domingo was a fresh face. But he quickly made an impact, even being awarded player of the game in their first win over the league-leading Singapore Slingers.
We spoke to the Fil-Am slasher about his transition from the collegiate level in America to a pro career in Asia, reconnecting with his roots, and playing for fans so enthusiastic, they broke down arena doors just to watch Alab Pilipinas play.
Back in college, you played for Eastern New Mexico in the USA’s NCAA. Now, you’re playing all over Southeast Asia. What’s the biggest difference in terms of style of play and overall vibe?
Guys out here at the pro level, they’re a lot smarter. There’s a lot more attention to detail. Back in the NCAA, it was more of going back-and-forth, just a lot of speed. You can see the difference in the age groups and their maturity level.
How did you get signed by Alab Pilipinas?
I was trying to come and play in the PBA but there are some things going on with my paperwork. Luckily my highlight tapes had made their way here. They were sent to all the different agents, but Charlie Dy—he was the one whom I really wanted to see my tapes. I told him about my paperwork situation, he told me about Alab, and here we are.
Playing in the ABL takes you all over Southeast Asia. Where has the reception been the warmest so far?
The Philippines, for sure. People love basketball here, and if you’re a player, you want to be around that culture. You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone who knows or plays basketball.
I remember our first game versus Kaohsiung Truth [in Bulacan]. The arena had already reached capacity but we heard fans were still trying to get in. They broke the doors! A wave of people just rushed in and [the organizers] had to call the army to get things under control. I’ve played in packed gyms before, but never anything like this.
Where else are you excited to go?
Right now I heard Hong Kong has a really good fashion scene. I’ll look for sneakers. It’s hard to find my size here because I’m a size 14.
You’ve recently met your family in Laguna for the first time. Does playing for Alab Pilipinas feel like a homecoming?
For sure. I feel like I get to connect with my roots and it bridges the gap between my family here and my relatives in the States. My family in Laguna has been real supporting, loving. They want to help. I feel like they’ve known me my whole life.
Like the Philippines, USA’s also a basketball-loving country. What was it like growing up in that environment?
The competition was great. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I moved to LA where the basketball culture was really big. That’s six hours from where I’m originally from. I moved in with a coach, and he really believed in me and worked on my game every day. I feel like that culture was really good for me.
What was the hardest thing about moving to the Philippines?
I had always moved away from my family. I moved out when I was 15, then I moved to New Mexico to play in the NCAA, so I thought moving here would be easy. But it turned out to be harder than I expected. It’s not like I can hop on a plane and visit them for a couple of days.
So being away from my family is hard. This past summer was the longest I’d ever been home since I was 15, and I made sure to spend a lot of time with everyone before coming here. I miss my dogs, too.
In terms of your game, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in transitioning from the NCAA to the ABL?
It’s my rookie year in the ABL and I think getting the jitters out was the hardest part. At first I’d be so excited to play that I was too fast, too energetic. After a few games, I’ve calmed down and have a better feel of the game.
I’m also working on my free throw shooting. Coach [Mac] Cuan is very good and he’s helped me a lot. It’s a mental thing, you know, but I’m a lot more confident now.
What’s your take on Alab Pilipinas’ performance at this point in the competition?
I think so far, especially because we’re a new team and haven’t been together as long as the other teams in the ABL, we’re doing okay. We definitely haven’t reached our full potential, but we’re getting there. If you look at our wins, and even our losses and how close they are, you can see we’re gonna be a good team—a team you can’t just take lightly.
We’ve got plenty more games to go, but what’s next after the ABL?
Right now I’ve been real focused on Alab, but long term, I’m hoping to play for the PBA. That’s been a dream for a long time now.