The Philippine Patriots may have won the first game of their best-of-five title showdown with Satria Muda BritAma but their lethargic performance draws concern from their coach Louie Alas.
Although he was glad that the Patriots were able to beat the Indonesians, 78-68, on Friday to get the early lead in this championship series, Alas admitted that his team must addressed their over-reliance on their two imports Gabe Freeman and Jason Dixon.
Freeman finished with 39 points, 15 in the first quarter and 11 in the fourth period, in what could likely be the highest point output by a single player in the short history of the ABL. He also had 14 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double since joining the team late last month.
The 6-foot-10 Dixon, on the other hand, notched his 14th double-double in the last 15 games, with 13 points and 17 rebounds and survived a pesky battle with his counterpart – the lanky 6-foot-9 Nakiea Miller.
“I think we must address our problems on relying too much on our imports,” said Alas, whose imports scored all of the team’s 23 points in the first period. “It has happened to us in Malaysia and I hope we have more contributions from our local cagers.”
The two American reinforcements accounted for 67 percent of the team’s points with team captain Rob Wainwright and Erwin Sta Maria making nine and eight points, respectively, to become the top two local scorers. Warren Ybanez had five while fellow starting guard Jaypee Alcaraz and Elmer Espiritu made two apiece, both coming from the foul line.
Alas also stressed the importance of playing consistent defense after they wasted a 48-41 halftime lead that allowed BritAma, behind Miller and many-time Indonesian national team member Ronnie Gunawan, take a 56-50 lead halfway into the third canto.
“Our defense was inconsistent,” Alas admitted. “Want we did was we went toe-to-toe offensively with them (BritAma). That’s not our game because we put emphasis on defense.”
The Patriots also saw their field goal shooting dwindle to 29-percent in the second half (12-of-42) after making half of their baskets (18-of-36) in the first 20 minutes of action.
Game 2 is set on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan where the Filipino cagers shoot for a commanding 2-0 lead before taking a rigorous flight to Jakarta for Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4 on February 21 and 24, respectively.
If needed, a pivotal fifth game will staged on February 28 back in Manila.