Asean Basketball League Playoffs Roundup: May 26-27, 2012

Chris Banchero had his best game so far in Game 1 of their
series against the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
The Indonesia Warriors were forced to play without their top scorer, Evan Brock, for 33, but refused to back down as they defeated the second-seeded Air Asia Philippine Patriots 73-64 at the Ynares Sports Arena to steal game 1 in their playoff series.

Brock left the game after playing superbly for the first seven minutes. He had 8 points and 9 rebounds before he sustained what appeared to be a groin injury and was forced to get off the court to seek treatment.  Brock stayed in the locker room until halftime and sat back on the Warriors’ bench in the third quarter however Warriors’ coach Todd Purves decided not to put him back into the game. 

The Patriots’ leading scorer, Anthony Johnson, also went down at the end of the game after grabbing a rebound and had to be carried off the court with what appeared to be an ankle injury. 

With the absence of Brock, Stanley Pringle stepped up and scored 23 points including 5 crucial points in the last four minutes of the game. Warriors big man Steven Thomas recorded a big double-double with 17 points and 19 rebounds for the Warriors. 

The Patriots had a miserable shooting day as they finished with only 27% shooting. Johnson finished with 21 points while Vergara had 12 points for the Patriots. Last year’s best import,  Nakiea Miller, had a very tough shooting day. Miller missed 18 of his 21 attempts. It will be interesting to see how Miller, who finished with 9 points and 14 rebounds, will respond in Game 2. 

Game 2 of the playoff series between the AirAsia Philippine Patriots and the Indonesia Warriors will tip off on Sunday June 3 at the Britama Arena in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

INW 73 – Pringle 23, Thomas 17, Brock 8, Prihantono 6, Salangsang 5, Wuysang 4, Canada 4, Gunawan 4, Sitepu 2
APP 64 – Johnson 21, Vergara 12, Miller 9, Fernandez 8, Ramos 6, Adriano 4, Saldua 2  Larong 2
QS: 24-11. 44-23, 58-52, 73-64

Junmar Fajardo towers over everyone as he attempts a short
jumper in the paint.
Ariel Vanguardia explodes with anger at the officiating.

The hype for the playoff series between the first-seeded San Miguel Beermen and fourth-ranked  Westports Malaysia Dragons exceeded all expectations. It was a nail-biting game where both teams kept exchanging leads and made big play after big play to find them tied at 95-all at the end of the fourth quarter. 

In the end, however, the home team executed better in overtime and survived with the 111-104 win. Nick Fazekas led the Beermen with 32 points while Duke Crews added 25 points and 11 rebounds. SMB’s Fil-Italian guard, Chris Banchero, had his best game so far in the AirAsia ABL wtih 18 points, 15 assists and 6 steals as the Beermen who scored 74 points in the paint. 

The Beermen overcame a huge game from the Dragons’ Brian Williams, who almost recorded a triple-double. Williams finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. 

Banchero was very pleased with his team winning the first game in the series, which was played at Olivarez Gym in Paranaque City.

“We knew going into the series it will be a very tough series. I’m glad we came out with a win today,” said Banchero. 

Despite the win, Beermen’s coach Parks wants his team to improve defensively in game 2.

“We can do a lot better in defense, but I like the character of my team today,” said coach Parks after the game. 

Patrick Cabahug had a huge game for the Dragons with 24 points, but he was held scoreless in the overtime. The league’s leading scorer, Tiras Wade, did not have his best shooting night as he finished with 23 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Nic Belasco added a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds 

The Dragons will look to regroup in game 2, which will be held on their homecourt, MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Saturday the June 2, 2012. 

SMB 111 – Fazekas 32, Crews 25, Banchero 18, Avenido 17, Fajardo 11, Yap 6, Gonzales 2
WMD 104 – Williams 32, Cabahug 24, Wade 23, Belasco 11, Batumalai 6, Pacana 5, Kuppusamy 3
QS: 20-29, 49-55, 75-75, 95-95, 111-104

Nakeia Miller thumps his chest in the opener
of the Patriots-Warriors series.
Stanley Pringle carried the Indoensia Warriors with
23 big points.
Warriors coach Todd Purves regroups with his wards
as they beat the Philippine Patriots in Game One.

AirAsia ABL Announces Nominees for Season 3 Player Awards
The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League has just announced the nominees for this season’s MVP awards, the winners of which will be announced in the first week of June after which the awards will be presented during the ABL’s Championship Dinner scheduled for July 2012.

Over the past seasons, Most Valuable Player awards have been given out in the categories of regular season import, regular season local player and best player during the playoffs/finals. This season however, two new categories have been added for the Regular Season Defensive Player of the year and the Regular Season Coach of the Year.

The MVP nominees are selected based on their performance throughout the regular season by their stats and total efficiency ratings. Their overall conduct in their games is also put into consideration.  Candidates are also required to have participated in at least 16 games within the regular season.

Best Defensive Player of the Year nominees are, of course, determined by their individual average rebounds, blocks, steals and how many points on average are scored against them.

The winners will be determined via peer voting where each team’s Head Coach will be given one vote for each category. The votes will then be tallied and the nominee with the most votes will receive the award.

This year’s award nominees are:-

Regular Season Import player MVP
Anthony Johnson – AirAsia Philippine Patriots
Tiras Wade – Westports Malaysia Dragons
Jonathan Jones – Saigon Heat

Regular Season Local player MVP
Leonez Avenido – San Miguel Beermen
Mario Wuysang – Indonesia Warriors
Al Vergara – AirAsia Philippine Patriots

Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year:
Steven Thomas – Indonesia Warriors
Nakiea Miller – AirAsia Philippine Patriots
Louis Graham – Singapore Slingers

Last year’s winners include this year’s nominee for the Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year Nakiea Miller, who won the Regular Season’s Best Import award for his role with the Dragons as well as Mario Wuysang, last year’s winner who is once again nominated for Regular Season Local Player MVP. The Slammers’ Attaporn Leitmalaiporn, who is currently still the only player in the ABL who has two awards under his belt (ABL League MVP in Season 1 and ABL Playoffs MVP in Season 2), misses out in this season’s nominations.

ABL Addresses Allegations of Biased Officiating
The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League stands by its officials and the decisions made following public allegations of biased refereeing after last weekend’s first games in the playoff series which were held in the Philippines.

Westports Malaysia Dragons Coach Ariel Vanguardia has come out recently to the media alleging that the ABL’s subpar officiating was a factor in their loss against the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday when the teams met in the first game of their playoff series. He also alleged that the league was intimidated by the Beermen and giving them unfair treatment.

In response, ASEAN Basketball League Chief Executive Officer Mr. Kuhan Foo stated, “Ariel Vanguardia’s accusations of the ABL being sympathetic to the San Miguel Beermen is the silliest thing to come out from an individual who claims to be a professional. He accused the league of conspiracy, especially after a hard fought loss, and we hope Coach Ariel will look back on and take stock of his emotional comments.”

On the issue of subpar officiating, Mr. Foo stated, “All the ABL teams know that we have to work within the limitations of the referees provided to us by FIBA Asia and that as the only professional basketball league in the region there is a lack of professional referees who are used to the very high level of competition that is experienced in the ABL. Also the sheer speed and physicality of the games make for a challenging day out for officials.

We will admit that the level of officiating is not up to the mark yet but overall the standards are consistent. All teams have benefited from good and bad calls throughout the season. This is something that all the ABL teams have previously acknowledged. The game between the Westports Malaysia Dragons and the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday was no different.

The positives that the ABL has brought to the game of basketball in the ASEAN region which include increased player skills, speed, technical and tactical abilities has in a way highlighted that we must also assist in the development of the officials, who are a key component in the game and who endure constant criticism in a very, very challenging and thankless role. The ABL is seeking to work with FIBA Asia to work out if we can assist to give more exposure to the officials and we will have these programs in place by next season.

Emotional outbursts are understandable after losses but overall we would like to see all teams and their representatives act as professionals. The ABL has grown by leaps and bounds with the positive feedback provided by teams, owners and our fans. We’re breaking incredible new ground every year, pushing the boundaries where sports has not gone before in South East Asia and we’re more interested in tackling issues positively that will allow us to grow more rapidly in the years to come.”

Coach Ariel Vanguardia will be asked to explain his accusations and to provide proof to back up his claims, failing which he could be looking at a fine of up to USD5,000 for his comments.

This follows notification of fines served by the league just yesterday to both Coach Ariel as well as Dragons team owner Ruben Gnanalingam who were both found guilty of making public prejudicial statements and allegations concerning the league via their respective social media accounts over the weekend.

*Game Recaps compiled and compressed from
**All images are from
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