San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will go for the ASEAN Basketball League championship in front of its home fans when it hosts Mono Vampire of Thailand in the deciding game of their best-of-5 finals.
Game time is at 8 p.m. at Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna on Wednesday.
The Filipino club had a chance to clinch the trophy on Monday, but its carelessness handling the basketball doomed head coach Jimmy Alapag and co.
Alab committed 26 turnovers, 15 of which were credited to Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee.
“Just on to Game 5,” Alapag said. “We (wanted to go to) Thailand and get a split. We got a split.”
A win would give Alapag his first hardware as a head coach, a perfect way to open a new chapter in his career as bench tactician following many years winning titles as a player in the PBA.
An Alab coronation will benefit some players looking for redemption, too — Ray Parks Jr., who fell short of the finals last year, and Balkman, whose volatile first stint with a Filipino club got him banned from the PBA.
For ex-Barangay Ginebra import Brownlee, whose presence on Alab helped immensely in fans crossing over to cheer his new squad, a victory would cement his status as one of the all-time most adored foreign reinforcements.
On the Mono Vampire side, if the Thailand club wins, it would be a solid entry in the résumé of Paul Zamar who has longed to come back home and play in the Philippines' top pro league, while Jason Brickman could see his stock rise further should he qualify and sign up for the coming PBA draft.
Zamar, whose floater late in the game sank Alab and forced the do-or-die game, said he didn't think much of his shot as poetic justice.
“I didn’t look at it as redemption. I looked at is as survival because our season was on the line,” the former University of the East player said. “I’m thankful and relieved I made it.”
Besides containing Zamar and Brickman in the backcourt, Alab will focus on limiting Mono's Mike Singletary and 7-foot-4 center Sam Deguara, who punished Alab for 30 points and 20 rebounds in Game 2, the last time the series was played in the country.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.