MANILA, Philippines -- Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag has no doubts that the Philippine national team will bounce back after they lost to his team in a tune-up game on Monday night.
Alapag's squad got a massive boost with less than a week left before the start of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as they defeated Gilas Pilipinas, 93-89, in the second of two tune-up games at the Meralco Gym.
The Philippine team took the first game, 98-95, Monday last week as Alab played without Renaldo Balkman. But the ABL side unveiled their new import, Nick King, in the second game, and he helped them hold off Gilas in the endgame.
Gilas head coach Tim Cone called the defeat a "step back," with just less than a month left before they plunge into action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"It's tough," Alapag said after the game. "This Gilas team has a very unique situation being right in the middle of a playoff race, having to play the SEA Games, taking a break from their club team and going back."
"It will be challenging for this group, considering how long the PBA season has already been," he added.
Still, Alapag expressed his confidence that Gilas will recover quickly. He noted that they still have an exceptional roster anchored by five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, and a collection of superb guards.
"You look at the caliber of players on that side, with the leadership and experience, we’ll be fine," he assured.
Alapag also pointed out that Gilas won't have to play teams that feature three imports in the SEA Games. Aside from King, Alab Pilipinas also had Khalif Wyatt and Adrian Forbes in their roster.
"(Having three imports) was a big advantage for us," said Alapag.
"As long as Gilas continues to prepare like we’ve been the last few weeks, the incredible amount of talent and leadership and experience, the guys will just have to continue to build," he added.
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