How a difference did a year made for Alab Pilipinas. Finishing with a 11-9 record in the elimination round and getting the boot by the Singapore Slingers in the semifinals that capped their maiden campaign in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) on a sour note, the team put in work during the off-season by enlisting former Gilas Pilipinas member Jimmy Alapag to serve as their head coach. Alab also tapped the services of Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee in reinforcing the team, with the pair having proven themselves in their respective stints in the PBA.
With this roster movement, not only did Alab Pilipinas version 2017-18 improved on its performance from a year ago by registering a 14-6 slate entering the postseason, but also emerged to become one of the contenders for the crown in the current ABL season.
Yet, inasmuch as the new faces have greatly contributed to the success that the squad is presently enjoying, the old hands of Alab are also to be credited for their role especially that they have stepped up their game under the tutelage of Alapag.
One of these so-called “veterans”, Alab players who are now on their second season with the squad, is forward Lawrence Domingo. In a country where Fil-foreigner ballplayers are a known commodity, Domingo marked his foray in the regional tournament in relative obscurity as an anonymous Filipino-American cager unknown to local aficionados and the intricacies as well as histrionics on how the sport is being played and appreciated on local soil.
Yet this situation may have been nothing new to him. After all, he played for Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) which is an NCAA Division 2 school and not exactly in the same caliber such as the Kentuckys and Dukes of the collegiate hoops world. But he did showed that he can indeed ball as he was named to the Lone Star Conference’s Honorable Mention Team by the time he graduated in 2016.
And just like in college, Domingo made sure that his hard work would be recognized at the end of the day. By the conclusion of his rookie year in the ABL, Domingo has made himself familiar to his team, its opponents and the league in general. Throughout 22 games played, the 6’5” Domingo tallied per game numbers of 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds while earning the reputation as one of the team’s erstwhile enforcers inside the shaded lane.
His numbers may have dipped to 7.2 markers and 5.5 boards per this season, but that didn’t hinder the 24-year-old cager in contributing to Alab’s resurgence this season. Remaining consistent on the defensive end of the floor just like what he did in his first year, Domingo has complimented Alab’s offense orchestrated by Brownlee, Balkman and fellow sophomore Bobby Ray Parks Jr. by providing steady picks, hounding the opposing team’s foreign reinforcements and slugging it out in the paint against taller and heftier counterparts night in and night out.
While he may not be considered as a scoring option in the mold of his three aforementioned teammates, Domingo has proven that he can put the ball in the rack when necessary. This was evident in the team’s quarterfinal match against Saigon Heat in this season’s ABL playoffs. Playing in front of the home crowd, Domingo fired 18 points on an effective 9-out-of-14 shooting from the floor while helping Alab to a 110-100 victory.
Back in familiar territory in the ABL semifinals, Domingo and Alab Pilipinas are currently battling the defending ABL titlists Hongkong Eastern Basketball Team for a spot in the championship round. So far, Alab is looking to reverse its debacle in the same stage from a season ago as they are one win away from sweeping Hongkong and entering the Finals for the first time in franchise history.
SLAM PH took time to spoke with Lawrence Domingo, as he shared some tidbits of his life and career as a pro basketball player while keeping his eyes on the prize which is winning an ABL crown with Alab Pilipinas and an eventual stint in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Photo from ABL