Steven Thomas wants to cap off a year of honors for the Indonesia Warriors by bringing home the Asean Basketball League title after picking up the award for top defensive player of the season.
The American center was named the 2012 ABL Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after receiving the most votes from all head coaches in the regional league. He surpassed two other contenders: Philippine Patriots’ Nakiea Miller and Louis Graham of the Singapore Slingers.
He led the league in rebounds during the regular season with 14.67 boards per game. Thomas was the second member of the Warriors to get an ABL award this season after Todd Purves was selected Coach of the Year on Monday.
“It’s a very humbling experience for me. It’s a blessing to win this award. I take pride in my defense,” Thomas, who joined the Indonesian team in April, replacing Reggie Warren, told the ABL website. “But I think it’s a team game. You got to have all five guys on the same page. I just try to be a leader on the defensive end.”
Thomas said his focus was still on winning matches as he still has important work to do: helping the Warriors win the league title. The team is tied 1-1 with the San Miguel Beermen in their ABL Finals series, with the third and deciding game taking place in the Philippines on Saturday.
“We have a bigger task on Saturday. We know it’s going to be tough game playing on the road against San Miguel Beermen. But we are excited and ready to play,” Thomas said.
Warriors coach Purves said he was pleased to hear of the honor that was bestowed on his starting center.
Thomas’ “work ethic and his efforts on a day-to-day basis really set the standard for our team,” Purves said. “I’m very happy that he’s being acknowledged by his peers and head coaches. He’s been the unquestioned leader for our team and a coach’s dream.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Johnson of the Patriots was picked by coaches as the ABL’s top regular-season import on Wednesday. Johnson beat fellow nominees Tiras Wade of the Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Saigon Heat’s Jonathan Jones.
“It’s an honor and I’m very grateful to win this award. There were a lot of good players in the ABL this year so it could have easily been someone else. So to me this is a blessing,” said Johnson, who finished the season as the league’s second-highest scorer, averaging 23.7 points per game.
Johnson’s best game this season came when he scored 34 points against the Malaysia Dragons at MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on March 17.