Urbiztondo comes home just as Slingers try to oust Alab

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 03, 2017 03:11 PM
Urbiztondo comes home just as Slingers try to oust Alab
WELCOMING COMMITTEE. Josh Urbiztondo will be back home in the Philippines - but will be among the Singapore Slingers who will be trying to eliminate Alab Pilipinas.

SINGAPORE – Singapore made quick work of Alab Pilipinas to move onto the cusp of the 2016-2017 Asean Basketball League Finals.

Xavier Alexander, Justin Howard, and Wong Wei Long were the stars, of course, but the Slingers also couldn’t have done it without the steady hands of Josh Urbiztondo.

The Filipino-American Asean Heritage import for Singapore put up eight points, four assists, and two rebounds – as well as a whole lot of solid defense against the likes of Kiefer Ravena and even Ray Parks Jr. last Sunday.

Post-game, Urbiztondo had nothing but praise for his team. As he put it, “I think I played well. More importantly, I think the team played well and with intensity.”

He then continued, “We’re a team that plays really well offensively when we get stops and buckle down on defense. I think that’s just what we did tonight.”

And now, the Slingers and their Filipino reinforcement have a golden opportunity to sweep the best-of-three semifinals series and advance into a second straight championship round.

Game 2, however, happens to be more personal for Urbiztondo who will get to play in front of his kababayans – all while also trying to send them home brokenhearted.

Alab Pilipinas will be trying to stay alive against Singapore in Game 2 on Friday in Bulacan.

Nonetheless, the 34-year-old wasn’t about to hide his excitement about returning to the Philippines. “I’m definitely looking forward to going home. I haven’t been away from home for longer than a month and a half – so this is the longest (I have spent away from home),” he shared.

He then continued, “I’m sure there will be a full crowd there. I’m excited to play in front of my family and the full crowd there.”

Although technically still under contract with Globalport in the PBA, Urbiztondo was allowed to play for the Slingers starting in early March. Since then, he has temporarily relocated to his new home team while leaving his wife and two daughters back home.

Fortunately, the eight-year PBA veteran’s transition was made easier as his new teammates welcomed him with open arms. “Being here, being in a different country away from my family, it’s a big adjustment. But it’s nothing I can’t handle and I just wanna be professional about it,” he said.

He then continued, “The guys brought me under their wing. They made the adjustment easy for me.”

And that is exactly why Urbiztondo is out to give back to Singapore by helping take them to the promised land – even if it means having to go through his fellow Filipinos. “I just wanna be whatever missing link there is. The leadership, the championship experience, I hope to bring it to the young guys here,” he said.

And while returning to Philippine basketball was always one of the next steps for him, Urbiztondo said his mind is on, and is solely on, the Slingers and the ABL. “I’ve been talking to a couple of (PBA) teams here and there, but right now, here is my focus. I’m just trying to win another championship here,” he expressed.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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