Team Standings

Philippine Patriots - 9-4

Satria Muda BritAma - 8-5

Singapore Slingers - 8-4

KL Dragons - 5-8

Brunei Barracudas - 5-7

Thailand Tigers - 3-10

THE Philippine Patriots is hell-bent to arrest its losing skid as they tackle cellar-dweller Thailand Tigers in the 1st Asean Basketball League (ABL) at Nimibutr National Stadium in Bangkok today, Sunday.

The Patriots are coming off back-to-back losses to the Singapore Slingers and the Kuala Lumpur Dragons this week but remained “confident” of their chances against the Tigers as they try to regain their poise heading into the playoffs.

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“We will emphasize more on moving the ball around (in practice) and hopefully get our local players more involved on offense in our succeeding games,” said RP team Coach Louie Alas.

The league-leaders have one more match to go by taking on the Brunei Barracudas on January 24 at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

The Patriots are unbeaten at home in seven games but lost four of their six games on the road.

Powell out, Freeman in

In a related development, the management of the Patriots sacked import Brandon Charles Powell due to disciplinary issues.

Team Manager Erick Arejola informed ABL that Powell was “given sufficient warnings to merit his release.”

The 6’5” Powell who has played in all 13 of Patriots’ matches, has scored a total of 147 points and made 58 rebounds, but his performance has been inconsistent throughout the season.

Powell’s season-best was against the KL Dragons at Ynares Sports Arena last December 19, where he blasted for 20 points to seal a 76–70 win.

But it was a different story on their rematch last January 9 at Maba Stadium, where Powell only managed to score five points in that lopsided 77–59 victory of the Dragons.

To fill in his shoes is ex-PBA import Gabe Freeman who has been tapped in the hope of boosting the Patriots title bid in the regional league.

The 6'6” Freeman arrived Friday in Thailand to give the team the needed firepower to help them finish in the top two.

“It’s too early to assess but I think he’ll fit well with the team,” said Alas.

The 25-year-old Freeman was instrumental to San Miguel Beer's 18th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) championship against sister team Ginebra in the Fiesta Conference in 2009.

During his PBA stint, Freeman averaged 23 points, 16 rebounds, and two assists in 24 games. He was also named the Conference Best Import.

He also started his professional career with Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association in the United States where he led the team to the finals.

Other teams stalking

As the Nationals try to unify their acts, Singapore Slingers and Satria Muda BritAma of Indonesia are stalking the Patriots for the elusive top spot in the semi-finals after beating separate foes recently.

Singapore improved to a record of 8-4 while the Indonesians climbed up to 8-5 as both squads moved closer to the Patriots, who is on top with a 9-4 record but has lost their last two games.

The Slingers stretched their winning streak to three games following a 92-74 rout of the KL Dragons at home Tuesday while BritAma blasted the

Brunei Barracudas, 98-84, Monday for their fourth straight victory.

Satria Muda has managed to win five of their seven home matches and three of their six road matches. It also has a clean slate against both Brunei Barracudas and KL Dragons, emerging as the winner in all previous meets.

Singapore Slingers, who are third in the league standings, have three road matches facing them en route to the playoffs. They meet KL Dragons at MABA Stadium Malaysia on January 17 and the Brunei Barracudas at the Brunei Indoor Stadium, Bandar Seri Begawan three days later.

The team will then travel to Bangkok to face Thailand Tigers at Nimibutr National Stadium on January 24. The Singapore Slingers have so far won both matches against Brunei Barracudas, but have lost one each to both KL Dragons and Thailand Tigers.

The second running Indonesians also has two more matches remaining, going up against Brunei Barracudas at the Brunei Indoor Stadium, Bandar Seri Begawan as of press time and against the KL Dragons at the BritAma Arena on Januar 23.

The top four teams qualify for the playoffs at the end of January. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)