Turns out, not being second-seed was a good thing for Finals-bound Alab
Alab Pilipinas is undefeated through four games in the playoffs
STA. ROSA, LAGUNA – Renaldo Balkman remained fired up even after Alab Pilipinas completed an emphatic semifinals sweep of now-dethroned champion Hong Kong.
“Everybody kept talking about (how) they (were) the number one team,” he told reporters post-game. “Hey, they got a great team, but I know how good we prepared for these games and I think we had an edge on them.”
Apparently, that edge is a winning streak which has now stretched to seven games, dating back to the tail-end of the elimination round.
Then, the Filipinos won all of their last three assignments and gave themselves a good chance at the second-seed and the automatic advance into the semifinals.
All they needed to happen was for Eastern to defeat Chong Son in their own last assignment.
That didn’t happen, however, and Chong Son got the top-seed, Hong Kong got the second-seed, and the Philippines was relegated to the third-seed.
That meant that there wouldn’t be any rest for Alab and they would be matched up with dangerous Saigon in the quarterfinals.
For Balkman, continuing to play – and continuing to roll – was just what they needed. “Well, not being arrogant or what, I just know how my guys are. We’re playing well, we’re playing together, and I think the best thing that happened to us is that we played in the (quarterfinals),” he shared.
He then continued, “If we sat home and rested, I mean, it would hurt us, but since we played in the (quarterfinals), we got better going into the (semifinals).
Indeed, Balkman and company have only gotten better and better as they followed up a blanking of the Heat with a sweep of Hong Kong.
Now, the Filipinos are back in the Finals of the Asean Basketball League. “I’m just really proud of our guys. They have fought and clawed their way into the Finals,” head coach Jimmy Alapag said.
He then continued, “We have a confident group that deserves to be in the Finals. Like I’ve been telling them in the beginning, let’s give ourselves an opportunity, let’s get to the end and let’s see what happens there.”
The Philippines will face either top-seeded Kung Fu of China or resurgent Mono of Thailand in the best-of-five championship round.
Whatever happens there, Balkman promised that the show would go on. “The next step for us is to win the championship so we gotta prepare. I’m gonna tell it one more time, it’s gonna be another show whoever we gonna play,” he said.
He then continued, “Win or lose, no matter what, it’s gonna be a show because it’s the last three games we got to win and it’s all over.”
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