Alapag all praises for Alab newcomers

Jimmy Alapag looks to use Alab's youthfulness to his advantage this time. ABL
By Ivan Saldajeno

STA. ROSA, Laguna--Alab Pilipinas paraded an apparently retooled lineup with some of its players from its ASEAN Basketball League champion team last season either playing in the domestic top tier league Philippine Basketball Association, the domestic regional Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, or have already retired now.

Save for center PJ Ramos and former Macau Black Bears forward Caelan Tiongson, the newcomers to Alab just played their first professional basketball game ever on Sunday night against the CLS Knights at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex.

For Coach Jimmy Alapag, however, he sees Alab's young guns as assets for the future especially with reigning ABL Most Valuable Player Ray-Ray Parks gearing up for the PBA.

"I think the biggest difference from last year's team to this year's team is we're much younger, but at the same time, they're great young players, high-character and hardworking guys. Any time you can add that to the core of the team that's already won a championship, it kinda helps fast-track the chemistry aspect of it," Alapag said of his new recruits.

The fast-tracking of Alab's team chemistry bore fruit on Sunday night as they assisted on 33 of 37 field goals and six free throws in a 94-67 rout of the Knights.

[Related Story: Alab pounces CLS to start bid for back-to-back ABL plums]

"We've been really happy with everybody. Credit to our guys," Alapag continued. "We got a great group."

Ethan Alvano dished out seven assists in the game as well as Tiongson, and Alapag, arguably the best point guard in Asia during his prime, lauded his new starting quarterback.

"Ethan's great. For his first professional game, I thought he handled himself really well," Alapag said of Alvano. "He led our team tonight with seven assists and that's what a point guard has to do."

Now that Game 1 of 26 is done, Alapag looks forward to Alab's rookies--Alvano, Brandon Rosser, Thomas Torres, and Prince Rivero--continuing to run the show.

"I'm excited for them. It's just the beginning. There's still a lot of work to be done, but [it's] a good start," Alapag further said.

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