Team owner Charlie Dy assured San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ readiness for the ASEAN Basketball League playoffs after a late swoon relegated the defending champions to second place at the end of the regular season.
Four straight losses including Sunday’s 81-80 setback to Vietnam’s Saigon Heat in Ho Chi Minh City put Alab at 18-8 after the four-month eliminations, thus arranging a best-of-three quarters duel with No. 7 Hong Kong Eastern.
Taiwan’s Formosa Dreamers capitalized on Alab’s struggles to snatch the top spot with a 19-7 record and a date with No. 8 Mono Vampire of Thailand in the quarters.
The ABL playoffs will start on Friday, with Alab set to open the series on a date still being determined at presstime.
“We’ll be ready for the playoffs,” Dy said on his Facebook post last week.
Injuries to key players, namely import Renaldo Balkman and locals Caelan Tiongson, Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser have largely contributed to Alab’s freefall.
That left Alab to play with a depleted lineup, sometimes being forced to have just nine players in uniform during one of its recent games.
Dy said Alab couldn’t find temporary replacements to its injured players as the deadline for changing players had expired weeks earlier.
Alab was also forced to have just two reinforcements in Balkman and 7-foot-4 PJ Ramos but the team had already maximize the league’s salary cap on imports.
Under ABL rules, teams can sign a maximum of three imports provided they can be fit within the cap.
Speculations of Alab signing Justin Brownlee, one of the heroes in the team’s title run last season, swirled during the season but the Ginebra resident import eventually joined Lebanon’s Al-Riyadi. (Jonas Terrado)