Three Takeaways from the Alab Pilipinas’ close loss to Hong Kong Eastern

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A revamped Tanduay Alab Pilipinas squad faced the defending champions Hong Kong Eastern in front of a sold out home crowd in the MOA Arena. Alab fell in their home opener 89-92. Hong Kong was dominant for much of the game but Alab fought back in the second half to make the game exciting. Here are three takeaways from Alab’s first game:

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1. Christian Standhardinger is so good

Christian Standhardinger showcased why he was the first pick in the PBA draft. He was a dominant force in Hong Kong’s win tallying 26 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. Standhardinger’s skills are no secret to Filipino fans who’ve grown to love the big man during his stints with Gilas. But this is the first time Standhardinger used his skills against a home team. All of the scouting reports on him are true.

He’s a bruising big man who can bang with the big boys in the paint. He looked comfortable playing inside against Ivan Johnson, a player known for his toughness. Standhardinger also displayed his soft touch in the midrange. He was confident rising up and taking those 15 to 18-footers that were set-up for him.

Standhardinger also ran the floor hard and was a target for his teammates on the break.

But the most impressive thing about Standhardinger was the fact that he got his points within the flow of the system. He didn’t dominate the ball to get his 26 points. In the clip above of him hitting a dagger jumper, he didn’t do it off an isolation or on the block. Hong Kong utilized his talents, set a play for him and he delivered.

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2. Josh Urbiztondo reminds everyone he can still ball

Urbiztondo hasn’t been relevant in the local basketball scene for more than a year now. He played for the Singapore Slingers last year and signed a quick deal with the GlobalPort Batang Pier. Now, he’s the starting point guard for Alab Pilipinas.

He made Alab look smart with the signing. He erupted for eight points in the first period and finished with a solid 14 points, mostly on outside shots. He almost hit a game-winning heave from beyond half court.

But Urbiztondo’s value is not because of the points he can score but more of the steadying presence he brings to the team. Alab is a team that’s only recently come together. They have a few pieces from last year’s core but they also brought in several new players. Their lack of chemistry was obvious in the lack of passing that they had. Alab only finished with 10 assists against Hong Kong.

It’s up to Urbiztondo to galvanize the team as the season progresses. He needs to be able to balance his scoring and setting up the rest of the team. He doesn’t need to average tons of assists. Instead, he needs to make sure that everyone is in the right spots when the offense is initiated to ensure that it flows smoothly

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3. Bobby Ray Parks Jr. is better as a finisher

Bobby Ray Parks is arguably Alab’s best local player. That’s why it’s so tempting to juts give him the ball in every possession and have him create. But ever since he got back from his stint in the US, he’s shown that he’s better off as a 3DA type of player than the LeBron-esque point-forward everyone envisioned him to be.

Parks is athletic and strong. That makes him an ideal off the ball player. Think of him as Alab’s version of Ricci Rivero in DLSU.

Alab can initiate their offense with Urbiztondo or in the post with Ivan Johnson. Parks can cut to the hoop and use his strength and timing to finish over defenders. He can also receive the ball and attack an imbalanced defense with his penetration game. His jumper has reached a point where defense have to respect him so he can hit three-pointers off spot ups or dribble a step in for a long two after a fake or hard close out.

This shift could open up Alab’s offense and make it easier for Parks Jr. to create for himself and everyone else.

Photos from the ABL Facebook Page

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