Alab running out of bodies as Balkman, Domingo go down
MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Alab Pilipinas may have survived the Macau Black Bears with a 101-96 comeback at home on Friday, March 8, but the trade-off might prove disastrous in their immediate future.
The defending ABL champions lost do-it-all swingman Law Domingo to a knee injury as well as reigning Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Balkman to a possible concussion.
The 34-year-old veteran bumped heads with Macau star Mikh McKinney midway through the 3rd frame, causing a bloody nose and a splitting headache right after the game.
Already running without starting forward Caelan Tiongson (right ankle) and athletic spark plug Brandon Rosser (right knee), head coach Jimmy Alapag is suddenly running out of able bodies as the regular season winds down.
“As far as [Balkman's] status on Sunday, it is still up in the air,” Alapag said. “We are definitely a banged up bunch – we already don't have Rosser and Tiongson. You know Domingo went down. The biggest thing is we are just 3 weeks out before the playoffs. We want to make sure that we get to the playoffs healthy.”
They head back to Taiwan on Sunday, March 10, for the first of two straight games against the second-seeded Formosa Dreamers.
“I almost put [assistant coaches] Eric [Menk] and Danny [Siegle] in the game but we didn't have a jersey for them,” he joked.
Even though he was seeing stars, Balkman eventually returned to finish the comeback effort against Macau.
“He wanted to get in. If it was up to me, I would have sat him out but that's who he is,” Alapag continued. “He fights for these guys and he wants to defend what we have. It was just an incredible effort by Ray (Parks), Balk, PJ (Ramos), and the rest of the guys.”
Still, the legendary point guard-turned-coach is hoping to still have his wards back even with their playoff berth clinched weeks ago.
“We're still going to go out there and fight,” he declared. “But again, we are a banged up team. We already have half of our guys whose status are game-time decisions. So, we'll do our best to get these guys healed up.”
Alab is currently sitting at a league-best 18-4 record as the rest of the league fights for the remaining postseason slots. – Rappler.com