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Tiebreaker Times


AJ Mandani turns Alab home game into his homecoming

When Alab Pilipinas hosted the Singapore Slingers on Wednesday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre, the energy was high, as the fans that trooped to San Juan were ecstatic the entire night.

But the Slingers silenced the crowd, and it was Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani who led the crew.

“I knew the crowd was gonna go crazy and we knew that we didn’t want to let the atmosphere shake us up. We just had to stick together,” the six-year pro said after Singapore’s 90-80 road victory.

The 14th overall pick in the 2012 PBA Rookie Draft frustrated Alab all night, going 8-for-14 from the field, 6-of-8 from dowtown for 23 markers.

“It’s great, man,” quipped Mandani, Singapore’s ASEAN Heritage Import.

“Something about the environment, something about the air that just helps me make my shots.”

Moreover, in the final quarter of the game, the 5-foot-11 gunslinger scored 11 markers to help buck any Alab comeback. The biggest shot of the game came with 1:02 remaining. Mandani nailed a long triple that extended Singapore’s lead to double-digits. And after the shot, Mandani looked at the stunned crowd, making a phone call sign — probably saying “call me”.

ABL-8-Alab-vs.-Singapore-Mandani-2622 AJ Mandani turns Alab home game into his homecoming ABL Basketball News  - philippine sports news

“It was just good to be back playing in front of everybody. I got my family here watching today. I’m just glad we executed the way we wanted to,” added Mandani, who is averaging 10.25 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for the Slingers this season.

Besides the victory, he believes that his inspired play was the result of his desire to not let down his family and friends who were in attendance.

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“I have my girlfriend, my girlfriend’s mother who flew in from Canada, I got my brother Kelly Nabong, and I got all my relatives from Tanay. This is their first time watching live,” shared the Ontario-born cager.

“Of course, that’s a factor in my inspired play. It’s just good to have family here to support.”

And if he can continue his stellar play, maybe he can be called back to the PBA and play in front of his family again on a daily basis.

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