Ginebra San Miguel held their ground against Alaska Aces’ continued onslaught in the second half to forge a nail-biting 93-92 win in the PBA Philippine Cup.
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Both Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar posted big numbers, Slaughter leading all players with 27 points and 19 rebounds. Aguilar also had a double-double performance, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Ginebra led from the start but squandered a 19-point half-time advantage and even ceded the lead in the last 15 seconds after Vic Manuel made a short jumper to make it 92-91 to Alaska. But the seven-foot behemoth Slaughter proved his mettle, calmly sinking two free throws to make it 93-92 with only four seconds left and win the game.
The victory was Ginebra’s first in the current Philippine Cup, while Alaska suffered their first loss in four games.
“Alaska have always been good at coming back,” coach Tim Cone told Sport360. “Their pressure is relentless and we just held on for our lives down the stretch.”
Cone, the former Alaska coach and most accomplished in the PBA with 18 titles, added: “The team have stretches where they play beautifully, but also where they look ugly. We will smooth that out in the coming games.”
Alaska coach Alex Compton, meanwhile, was not downhearted despite defeat.
“They posted a big lead early in the game but we just kept coming,” he said. “We played hard and fought for every possession and I’m proud of the efforts of my players.”
Manny Pacquiao played pick-up basketball with Dubai-based West V-PGW team at GEMS Wellington International School in Al Barsha on Tuesday night.
In the short video taken by Dubai resident Arnel Fernandez, commissioner of PBBL, Pacquiao exhibited his nifty basketball skills.
According to Nonoy Sayon, team captain of West V-PGW, Pacquiao scored at least 20 points including five triples in a game which lasted for just under an hour. He said Pacquiao should really be defended well on the court, “otherwise he will shoot in front of you; and he can drop buckets.”
“Playing with him (Pacquiao) is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and he’s a very humble person,” added Sayon, a former professional basketball player in the Philippines who suited up for Negros Slashers and Cebu Gems.
Aside from Sayon, those who played for West V-PGW are Dubai residents Edu Allado, Dexter Tabiano, BJ Javellona, Al Federiso and Reymund Resquites. The team was coached by Rudolph Ganzon and managed by Boy Galvez.
Pacquiao’s former team mate at Kia Sorento, Eder Saldua, who now lives in Dubai, was on Team Pacquiao as well as Filipino expats Ruzell Tamayo, Dave Nasiad and Jojo Cagampang.
Sayon said the winning team received a US$1,000 cash prize from Pacquiao after the game.
Pacquiao’s professional basketball team in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association), Mahindra Enforcers, will face Alaska Aces on Friday 6th November at Al Wasl Club.
By Jose Maria Santos
Basketball in the UAE is still a sport under development, with structure and organisation needed to expand the game.
Belal Abiad is doing everything he can to benefit the cause through Ball Above All Dubai, a social basketball movement.
Since starting in 2013, Ball Above All specialises in organising leagues and tournaments, along with pick-up games and coaching for players.
At the moment, it is all run by Abiad, from the logistics of scheduling games to running the website and everything in between.
Despite putting in hours upon hours on top of his day job, Abiad is more than happy to fill a need for the region. His passion for the game stems from his own basketball background.
The Australian-born Lebanese, who has played professionally in Lebanon and semi-professionally in Australia, initially started Ball Above All’s concept Down Under as a university student in 2002.
What made his concept different, however, was rewarding prize money to the winning teams instead of a standard trophy.
The league continues to run in Australia, but Abiad has now brought his tried-and-tested approach to the Middle East with what he believes is the only running league for expats catering to the elite level.
“I was pretty much bored from the social basketball system. It’s not really a pro level, but it’s not really a low level,” Abiad said.
“The people that used to play pro and still wanted to play or high-level players, there wasn’t any options for them and the level of competition provided wasn’t to their needs.”
The leagues are now in their fourth season, with the Elite League Division I running at Al Sufouh Secondary School on Fridays and Saturdays and the Semi-Elite Corporate League taking place at Raffles World Academy on Wednesdays.
In total, Ball Above All currently has 18 teams competing for a prize of Dh8,000 in Division I and Dh4,000 in the Semi-Elite Corporate League.
Aside from the leagues, pick-up games are also offered for any player, no matter the level, age or gender.
The sessions, which are held on Tuesdays at GEMS Wellington International School and on Sundays at Raffles World Academy, are limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-serve basis by contacting Abiad at [email protected].
Coaching is still to come on a more regular basis, but Abiad’s ultimate aspiration is to form a pro league for expats down the road.
With his passion and the impact he’s had on the basketball community in a short period of time, there’s no reason why Abiad can’t aim big.
“Not many people in Dubai do it for the passion, they do it for the money. With me, it’s more about the passion,” he said.
“I want it to grow and reach a level where it can compete with the pro league here.”