Fresh off their victory in the Asian Basketball League finals, the Indonesia Warriors are looking forward to next season, even though league organizers have yet to announce when it will begin.
The Warriors beat the San Miguel Beermen 78-76 at Ynares Arena in Pasig City, the Philippines, on Saturday to win the series 3-1 for the franchise’s first ABL title.
It’s been a good year for Indonesia Sports Venture, which owns not only the Warriors but also National Basketball League champion Satria Muda Britama. ISV executive director Fictor Roring said the Warriors were already planning their title defense.
“It will be another tough season as we have to split our roster into two teams, for the NBL and ABL,” Fictor said on Monday. “We already have some plans for the upcoming season, but first we’ll sit down and have a meeting with the board of directors in the next two or three weeks.”
He said it had been a miracle season for the Warriors, given that they had lost three of their first four games.
First-year coach Todd Purves’ midseason adjustments, though, changed the team’s fortunes. That earned him the ABL Coach of the Year award.
At the center of Purves’ revolution were three midseason imports — Americans Steven Thomas, Evan Brock and Filipino-American Stanley Pringle — who quickly became fan favorites. Thomas was even named Defensive Player of the Year.
“They had a great impact on the team,” Warriors captain Rony Gunawan said. “They have a wonderful attitude, they’re hard workers and they blended into the team easily.”
Pringle is signed through 2014 and Purves has hinted that he wants Thomas and Brock, whose contracts will run out at the end of the month, to stay.
“I’m going to sit down with the ownership this week,” Purves said. “I loved my time in Indonesia and we will make some arrangements. I think we’re going to build the roster from this team.”
The American coach praised his players for persevering through what began as a tough season.
“Early on, it was a learning experience,” he said. “But the boys kept their focus and stuck together. They showed great character and worked hard. We played the best basketball at the end of the season.”
He added: “The [Coach of the Year] award is humbling. I got a lot of respect from other coaches. The award is never really our goal. If you have success as a group, the individual award becomes much less significant than bringing in the title.”
Fictor promised to try to keep the Americans on the roster.
“They’re the best, not [only] in terms of skills, but [also] attitude. They’re incredible. Of course we want to keep them,” he said. “But,the ABL season only lasts two and a half months, so they might want to play somewhere else [before next season starts].”