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Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman



When Jimmy Alapag, Justin Brownlee, and Renaldo Balkman all graced the floor of the FilOil Flying V Center on Wednesday night, it brought back memories of the battles they had figured in.

This time around, they were under one umbrella, as Tanduay Alab Pilipinas — with Alapag at the helm and Brownlee and Balkman being the new World Imports — took on the visiting Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Still, some sense of nostalgia kicked in that night, knowing that player-turned-coach Alapag has had history with his two new foreign reinforcements, when he was still on the court fulfilling floor general duties years back.

If there’s one guy in the Tanduay Alab club who knows Brownlee too well, it’s Alapag.

Alapag had already faced Brownlee in the PBA in last two years, both as a player and as an assistant coach to Norman Black for the Meralco Bolts. And it was an experience that, most likely, still stings the Mighty Mouse.

The former PBA MVP has lost to Brownlee and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the 2016 and 2017 Governor’s Cup Finals. And those defeats came in historic fashion: “The Shot” by Brownlee in 2016, and the loss in front of 54,000-plus in 2017.

“I got burned twice – both times in the Finals,” reflected Alapag. “There’s no secret what type of player he is. Just really thankful that he’s here to play with Alab for this ABL Season. Really fortunate to have him.”

For Brownlee, meanwhile, working with his former rival is an honor, even if he has broken Alapag’s heart twice.

“It was a great opportunity and an honor to be able to play for a guy like him, as intelligent as he is and the type of player he was, he was a great player in the PBA for many years,” said the versatile cager from Tifton, Georgia.

“Playing for somebody like that with a lot of knowledge in basketball and also a great guy, it’s a blessing for me and my career. I’ll definitely take advantage of that.”

Alapag wasn’t there at the SMART Araneta Coliseum when the infamous choking incident involving Balkman and Arwind Santos took place five years ago. Nor did he have the chance to face him in the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Of all the places, however, Alapag and Balkman crossed paths in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Just like Brownlee, Balkman has also brought pain to Alapag, when the veteran-laden Puerto Rico dealt Gilas Pilipinas a 73-77 loss in the group stage — the loss that booted the Filipino cagers out of the race for the round-of-16.

It wasn’t the ideal way to meet for both Alapag and Balkman, but it had somehow sparked a relationship that would eventually come to fruition four years later.

“A quick story about Renaldo… You know, when I saw him in Spain, he said, ‘Hey, if you ever get into coaching and the door opens up for me to come back to Manila, I’ll be ready.’ And it just worked out that he’s back,” shared Alapag.

From there, as they say, the rest is history.

Both Brownlee and Balkman wasted no time showing what they can bring to the table. In a way, it was their way of sending a message to all the other ABL ball clubs.

Brownlee, after being silent in the first half with eight points, was all over the place afterwards and emerged as Alab’s top performer with 29 points on top of eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.

On the other hand, Balkman messed around and got himself a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards. The former New York Knick also made his presence felt on defense, collecting a game-high four steals and two blocks.

All thanks to their stellar outing, Tanduay Alab came out victorious, 90-79, to earn their second straight win after a horrible 0-3 start to the season.

“Great to have them on our side that’s for sure. They’re world-class imports. I think they’ll give us a chance. It’s gonna be important for us. Kailangan namin for this month as we continue to improve,” said Alapag after the match.

“Those guys are winners,” he furthered. “Both in their domestic league and in Puerto Rico, and obviously Justin’s success here in the Philippines but also internationally.

“We’ll definitely lean on their experience moving forward.”



Jason Brickman steers Mono to back-to-back wins; Mikey Williams’ struggles continue



Photo from ASEAN Basketball League

After stunning defending champions Hong Kong Eastern and contenders Chong Son Kung Fu, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat saw their high snatched from them by Joshua Munzon and the Malaysia Dragons last January 18.

And it just got tougher for the Vietnam-based club team when Jason Brickman and the Mono Vampire ran them out of the CIS Arena, as Thailand’s super team took a 97-83 win, Sunday evening.

Jason Brickman, who flirted with a triple-double last January 19 against the Singapore Slingers, finished with just six points but did the rest by grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar had 16 points and was a game-high plus-25 for the game.

Same could not be said about their Saigon counterpart Mikey Williams.

Last week’s Heritage Import of the Week once again struggled. Limited to just a solitary point during their last outing, the Filipino-American guard was this time held to just five points on 2-for-9 shooting while going assist-less for the first time in five games.

The visitors locked down Saigon in the second frame that saw them give up just nine points in that 10-minute span. A Zamar lay-up with 5:32 left gave Mono an imposing 28-point lead, 87-59.

With the win, Mono lifted their record to 8-4, 1.5 games ahead of Alab and 2 games ahead of Saigon. The Vampire fell to an even 4-4 record.

Mono’s World Import Mike Singletary had 25 points, while 7-foot-4 big man Samuel Deguara had another double-double with 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 16 rebounds.

Maxie Esho led Saigon with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Moses Morgan and Akeem Scott had 17 and 16 points respectively.

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AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports



Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower that Singapore needed in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.

The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.

Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani made six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were pivotal in fending off Westsports.

With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed by a breakaway layup with 5:18 remaining gave Singapore an 81-72 cushion.

Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back, as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.

Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points, while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes, as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore



After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.

The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.

But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.

Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.

Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.

Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.

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