2013 ASEAN Basketball League Roundup: May 2-10, 2013

Here’s what we all have to realize about the 2013 ASEAN Basketball League – there are really just two teams playing for all the marbles. The San Miguel Beermen, currently toting a league-leading 17-3 win-loss card, are the deepest of the whole lot and, not surprisingly, the heavy favorites to take home the title. The Indonesia Warriors, meanwhile, buoyed by their championship experience last year and the return of ace playmaker Stanley Pringle, are hoping to be the classic foils to the Beermen’s machinations.

Stanley Pringle's return has made the Warriors
that much stronger.

Now how about the other four clubs in the six-team field?


And proof that in this part of the world, basketball, despite its decades-long popularity in the Philippines, is undoubtedly still in its infancy.

Just the fact that each team is allowed two non-ASEAN imports and almost a handful of ASEAN reinforcements is enough to indicate that, by and large, most of the countries’ local talent pools are not exactly brimming with richness. The Philippine teams (the defunct AirAsia Philippine Patriots and the San Miguel Beermen) have, of course, been consistently deep and fundamentally sound, but most of the other teams, especially the ones from Brunei (this team lasted just one season) and Vietnam (the Saigon Heat are currently in their second season), have been overly reliant on their respective imports to stay competitive.

This was true when the Chang Thailand Slammers upset the AirAsia Philippine Patriots in the 2011 ABL Championship and when the Indonesia Warriors ripped the Beermen in last year’s titular series. Despite having the best local player in Attaporn Lertmalaiporn, who has faded significantly ever since that stellar season, the 2010-2011 Slammers still relied on American Jason Dixon, Cameroonian Chris Kuete, and Pinoys Froilan Baguion and Ardy Larong to pull the rug from under the Pats. A year later, Fil-American sensation Stanley Pringle was the main reason the Warriors upended the Beermen in the 2012 Finals.

Right now, it surely looks like we’re set for the first-ever championship grudge match pitting the Indons and SMB. During the past week, in fact, both teams secured the top two slots in the standings. This means that both Indonesia and San Miguel will enjoy homecourt advantage in the semifinals.

As if they needed it anyway.

Running third are the Malaysia Dragons, who are definitely no pansies, but having them upsetting either of the top two squads is a bit of a stretch. Much bleaker are the chances of the two teams jostling for fourth spot – the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers and the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers. Either team would be hard-pressed to even hang with the Beermen or the Warriors in the semis, much more actually beating them.

This is not to say there aren’t any outstanding players in those teams. Wutipong Dasom has been a revelation for the Thais, but, again, it has been the imports ruling the day. Beanpole Christien Charles and Filipino baller Froilan Baguion have been the Slammers’ undisputed leaders both on the court and in the huddles. As for the Slingers, shooter Wei Long Wong has been putting up great numbers – he is currently averaging 10.0points and 2.0 3-point makes per game – but Singapore’s leaders still hail from the foreigners’ ranks, with Rashad Jones-Jennings, Rashaad Singleton, and Phillip Morrison all scoring better than 14 points per outing.

The biggest match-ups this past week, of course, were the ones that pitted the two league-leaders, SMB and Indonesia, against each other, and the Slingers-Dragons game.

In the former, Brian Williams and Asi Taulava continued to work really well in the paint, pairing up for 27 points and 18 boards, while former UE Red Warrior Val Acuña broke out with 15 points on the strength of 5 triples. The Beermen were successful in stifling Pringle here, who converted just 5 of his 15 field goals. This was a key result that gave SMB the inside track in securing the top seed for the playoffs.

In the latter, Filipino-American swingman and former San Beda Red Lion Julius Armon exploded for 26 points to lead the Malaysia Dragons past the hard-fighting Slingers. Gavin Edwards registered a sublime 16-14 double-double, too. On the other end of the floor, Jones-Jennings unloaded 16 markers and 25 boards for Singapore, but even that wasn’t enough for a W. Pinoy imports Donald Dulay and Morrison also did well, but, again, they fell short.

With only about 6 games to go in the season, it’s clear which teams are head and shoulders above everyone else, while the race for the fourth spot is still up in the air. In the end, however, third and fourth place might not even matter much, since the Beermen and Warriors have just been too good and too consistent.

Asi Taulava has been a solid contributor
for the San Miguel Beermen.

Froilan Baguion is the main quarterback for the
Sports Rev Thailand Slammers.

It sure looks like Mario Wuysang and Leo Avenido are destined for
rematch in the ABL Finals.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/AseanBasketballLeague)

Images: Images are from AseanBasketballLeague.com.
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