With the untimely injury of local MVP Ray Parks Jr., the inaugural season of Alab Pilipinas in the ABL ended with a disappointing loss to the Singapore Slingers via sweep in their best of 3 semi-final series. Not even the signing of Kiefer Ravena before the playoffs could help the team from overcoming a very experienced Slingers side from reaching the finals.

This season is going to be different as the team is looking to surpass its achievement from last year and will be gunning to become the third team from the Philippines to win the ABL championship after the Philippines Patriots and San Miguel Beermen. With high expectations from the home fans, Alab signed former Gilas Pilipinas team captain Jimmy Alapag as their new head coach while choosing to retain the services of only three players from last year’s roster: Ray Parks Jr., Robby Celiz, and Lawrence Domingo. Management has also signed several veteran local players like Dondon Hontiveros, Josh Urbiztondo, and Rico Maierhofer to pair alongside Ivan Johnson and Reggie Okosa as their world imports to augment the team’s roster in what could be a very strong and stacked line-up for the team from the Philippines.


ICYMI

There is a new major sponsor of Alab Pilipinas this season in Tanduay, a famous liquor brand in the Philippines. The company is not new to the Philippine basketball scene, having been part of the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), where it won several championships while producing famous PBA players like former MVP Eric Menk, Mark Telan, and Chris Cantonjos. This year, the company also inked sponsorship deals with two NBA teams: the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors. With Tanduay’s winning tradition, expect the team to go all out to get that elusive championship back for the Philippines.


THREE POINTS

  The team roster is loaded with veterans that have championship experience.

Josh Urbiztondo, Dondon Hontiveros, and Rico Maierhofer are all veterans that have collected multiple championships during their PBA career. World import and NBA veteran Ivan Johnson and head coach Jimmy Alapag were apart of TNT Katropa that won the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Even role players Pamboy Raymundo and Chris Sumalinog have also won a championship while playing for the Cignal team from PBA’s D-league just this year.

  Bobby “Ray” Parks Jr. is still the main man on this team.

Although loaded with veteran players, the reigning local MVP is expected to lead the team in offense along with imports Reggie Okosa and Ivan Johnson. This could be the last year for the former NBA G-league player with Alab as he is expected to finally join the PBA draft next year. With an ample amount of support, expect a more focused Ray Parks that will definitely be shooting for the championship this time around.

  The jury is out on Jimmy Alapag’s coaching career.

This will be the first head coaching stint for the former PBA MVP and Gilas Pilipinas team captain. His experience playing with Coach Chot Reyes and acting as an assistant coach to Norman Black with the Meralco Bolts and Jong Uichico at Gilas Pilipinas will be of big help. He will be up against the best basketball minds the ABL has to offer, including former coach of the year Neo Beng Siang of the Slingers, Malaysia’s Chris Thomas, the recently signed Kyle Julius of the Saigon Heat and reigning coach of the year Eddie Torres of the Hong Kong Eastern. The road to the championship will be tough, but knowing the “Mighty Mouse” that he is, expect him to be up for the challenge.


KEY ADDITION(S)

PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES


IVAN JOHNSON

(Forward/Center, World Import)


Management is taking a risk in signing this controversial import, having been banned for life from the Korean Basketball League (KBL) and PBA for a year. Not for coach Jimmy though, as he is very familiar with the NBA veteran from being his teammate at Talk and Text where they won the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title in 2015.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: ALAB PILIPINAS


REGGIE OKOSA

(Forward/Center, World Import)


This Nigerian cager is a well-traveled veteran that has played all over the world. He is also very familiar with Asian hoops, having played in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. The guy can play from both the outside and inside, possessing serious bounce, capable of producing many highlights plays.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: SPORTS INQUIRER


DONDON HONTIVEROS

(Guard/Forward, Local)


The “Cebuano hotshot” will try to prove that he can still play and help the team win in his first ABL stint. Alab will benefit from his leadership, experience, and deadly outside shooting.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE


JOSH URBIZTONDO

(Guard, Local)


Expected to be the starting point guard for this team, his experience and leadership skills will play a major factor in the team’s performance throughout the season. And oh… Don’t forget about his outside shooting. After all, he is the “fireball” right?


KEY DEPARTURE(S)


NONE


Alab management decided to do a major line-up overhaul, opting to retain only three players from last season. The current roster is a major upgrade and has a chance to contend for the championship.


X-FACTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE


JOSH URBIZTONDO

(Guard, Local)


   2016-2017 ABL Season Stats

10 Games | 11.3 PPG | 4.5 RPG | 2.6 APG | 36% FG | 35% 3P | 0.7 STPG | 1.7 TOPG


LOCAL TO WATCH

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE


BOBBY “RAY” PARKS JR.

(Guard)


   2016-2017 ABL Season Stats

21 Games | 18.3 PPG | 7.2 RPG | 4.1 APG | 31 3PM | 41.9% 3P% | 0.9 STPG | 2.6 TOPG


LATEST ROSTER

Head Coach: Jimmy Alapag

Local: #8 Robby Celiz (191 cm, 100 kg)

Local: #10 Paul Rico Maierhofer (198 cm, 88 kg)

Local: #13 Nico Paolo Javelona (183 cm, 79 kg)

Local: #2 Josh Urbiztondo (183 cm, 77 kg)

Local: #6 John Ray Alabanza (196 cm, 95 kg)

Local: #0 John Murphy Raymundo (178 cm, 74 kg)

Local: #25 Donaldo Hontiveros (188 cm, 83 kg)

Local: #24 Christopher Sumalinog (188 cm, 84 kg)

Local: #1 Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (193 cm, 100 kg)

Heritage Import: #3 Lawrence Domingo (196 cm, 99 kg)

World Import: #9 Reggie Okosa (208 cm, 109 kg)

World Import: #44 Ivan Johnson (203 cm, 120 kg)


BOTTOM LINE

“We’re stronger this year. We’ll be the biggest threat to Hongkong’s title defense” said team owner Charlie Dy during the ABL season 8 launch and press conference. The signing of Jimmy Alapag as head coach and acquisitions of veteran players and a pair of quality imports means the management is dead serious in bringing back the championship to the Philippines. It will not be easy though as 7 other teams will also try to beat the defending champions making it the most exciting season in the history of the ABL.