by Ernest Hernandez
The matchup between Alab Pilipinas and Hong Kong Eastern featured two behemoths going up against each other in 7-foot-3 PJ Ramos and 7-foot-5 Sam Deguara.
Alab Pilipinas prevailed, 87-75, against Hong Kong Eastern and at one point led by 21 points. Ramos also won the battle with Deguara having 31 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and knocked down three shots from the rainbow country.
On the other hand, Deguara struggled with early foul trouble after racking up three fouls in the first period. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“That guy (Ramos) is really something else. It would be hard to find a guy,” compliments Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag.
“As long as I played this game, it is hard to find a guy with his size and skill,” said Alapag. “His ability to post, his ability to shoot the three, you can’t foul him because he makes his free throws – he is just a great teammate and great character guy.”
It was a risky move for Alapag to replace Justin Brownlee with Ramos. But remembering Deguara, who played with Mono Vampire back then and gave Alab all sorts of problems, seems to have justified all that.
Having Ramos around frees up Balkman guarding him and prevents other players from leaving their defensive assignments.
“You know it was great because, as Balk did a great job guarding him last year, we still have to double team and go back to the rotation,” recalls Alapag.
“With PJ, everybody can stay home and guard their guy. That was really the game plan- to let Deguara go one-on-one with PJ,” Alapag adds. “But again, PJ’s ability to move, his mobility—you guys see how much Deguara struggled tonight.”
Having someone to look up to, in terms of height, for the first time in his Alab career, it was just another day in the office for Ramos.
“I’m not worried about who I play, you know. I play whoever I got to play,” said Ramos on battling Deguara.
“So, everybody knows what I do, what I bring over the years. It doesn’t matter who you are, who you’re playing,” he said. “I’m always going to come out here and do my job. I played players like that before. I don’t worry about it. I’m a veteran and I’ve been playing over 18 years now, so I’m used to it.”