Back in November 17, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas was blown out of Studio 29 by Mono Vampire, 76-111.
A full month later, the Philippine-based club team was able to do the same, romping Mono, 96-73.
The difference? 7-foot-5 behemoth Sam Deguara.
The 28-year-old Maltese — who, together with Jason Brickman, steered Mono to the ABL Finals two years ago — had himself a big game, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
For Deguara, it was nothing personal, though — just business.
“There’s no motivation. It’s more of an experience.
“We know how they play and we know what they are their weaknesses and strengths, so we attacked on their weaknesses and played our game. We try to be better as ourselves,” said Deguara, who played for Hong Kong last year.
Ever since Deguara replaced Adrian Forbes, Alab has yet to lose. The mere presence of Deguara alone intimidates the opponents.
It’s something Deguara knows and vows to continue doing.
“I think we’re improving as a team. Since my arrival here, they want me to protect the rim and be a threat in the offense in the paint as a big guy,” he said.
“That’s what they want me to do here and try to play like that every time. That’s the mindset and my role for the team.”
Brickman himself has noticed the vast difference in the style of the team since Deguara’s arrival.
“I’m extremely happy. We played really well together. He’s a force on the inside, defensively and offensively. I know his impact on the game and how dominant he is just because of his size. I played with him for a year and he’s one of my favorite big men to play with,” said the 6-foot guard.
“Once he has position, it’s tough for anyone to guard him. So he’s just getting used to our guys and to have him playing with Alab is a big help. I think he’s gonna be a force for us all season.”
Despite the three-game winning streak, Deguara knows that they still have a lot to improve on. That is why he is looking forward to build more chemistry with the team both on and off the court.
“I think we still can be more consistent, make more stops, and play together as a team, keep moving forward and get better for the next games.”