By JONAS TERRADO
Game Today (Filoil Flying V Centre)
8 p.m. – Alab PH vs Malaysia
Tanduay Alab Pilipinas hopes to get the needed jolt from new imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman when it hosts the Westports Malaysia Dragons tonight in the resumption of the ASEAN Basketball League at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Brownlee and Balkman, who replaced Reggie Okosa and Ivan Johnson, will make their debuts in the 8 p.m. match as Alab tries to start the calendar year on a bright note after going 1-3 in the first four games of the ABL season.
While Brownlee will be tasked to bring the winning aura he got as import for crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Balkman is aching to use the Alab stint as a second chance after his lifetime ban from the PBA in 2013 for choking Petron teammate Arwind Santos.
Brownlee’s knack for winning games in the clutch and Balkman’s experiences playing in the NBA and for the Puerto Rican national team are some of the things that may spring some life in Alab’s campaign that began with three straight losses before ending 2017 with a road win over the Formosa Dreamers.
Reigning Local Most Valuable Player Ray Parks Jr. is averaging 13.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists and could provide the complimentary roles for Brownlee and Balkman while Josh Urbiztondo, Lawrence Domingo and Oping Sumalinog are among the trusted locals of rookie coach Jimmy Alapag.
Malaysia is the first game of a busy January for Alab.
After tonight’s contest, Alab will have a home-and-home series against the Singapore Slingers on Sunday in the Lion City and next Wednesday in San Juan.
Those games will be followed by road matches against Mono Vampire in Bangkok on Jan. 14 and CLS Knights in Surabaya, Indonesia on Jan. 20 before hosting Chinese club Chong Son Kung Fu on Jan. 31.
Like Alab, Malaysia, tied for fifth with the Saigon Heat at 1-2, will also have new players to begin 2018 with Fil-American Joshua Munson returning as the Dragons’ ASEAN Heritage Import and AJ West as new World Import.
Munson, who replaced ex-PBA forward Reil Cervantes, was a contender for the ASEAN Heritage MVP award last season after averaging 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals for both the Heat and Dragons.