By Jonas Terrado
(Caloocan Sports Complex)
8 p.m. – Alab Pilipinas vs CLS Knights
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas hopes to stay in contention for an outright semifinals berth today when it hosts Indonesia’s CLS Knights in the ASEAN Basketball League at the Caloocan Sports Complex.
The 8 p.m. affair will be the first two matches between both teams in a span of four days, a stretch Alab needs to win both in order to keep its chances of securing an early passage to the final four of the regional league.
Coach Jimmy Alapag’s Alab sits in fourth place at 12-6, trailing China’s Chong Son Kung Fu (14-5), defending champion Hong Kong Eastern (12-5) and Thailand’s Mono Vampire (13-6).
The top two teams after the eliminations advance to the semis while the remaining four playoffs teams meet in a best-of-three series for the remaining two berths.
Alab’s chance of finishing in the top two is slim, giving its disadvantage in the tiebreakers against Chong Son and Hong Kong, although the team will obviously want to be sharper before the playoffs.
Alapag will lean on imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman to lead the team’s bid to beat CLS for the third straight time this season, having beaten the Indonesian side twice in Surabaya.
Also expected to play prominently are Ray Parks Jr., Lawrence Domingo and Josh Urbiztondo while Alab hopes to have another quality showing from seldom-used guards Pao Javelona and Pamboy Raymundo.
CLS is already out of the playoff race with a 5-13 record but hopes to play the spoiler role with former PBA imports Shane Edwards and Brian Williams, Thai-American Freddie Lish, ex-PBA cager Keith Jensen and Indonesian national team star Mario Wuysang.