The Mono Vampire Basketball Club were owning the stage during the press conference after their Semifinals win over Chong Son Kung Fu. Mike Singletary, Samuel Deguara, Darongphan Apiromwilaichai, and Jason Brickman were all smiles and enjoying their time in front of the microphones, soaking in the win.
“You wanna do a podcast?” Singletary suggests as they waited for the formalities to begin. A delighted Deguara bangs the table while exclaiming his approval. “I think we would do good.”
As the outspoken leader of the team, Singletary has it all figured out. He’d lead the podcast and plans to have Deguara jump in from time to time with his big voice for comical effect.
Brickman likes the idea and ponders for a moment before voicing out his thoughts in his signature softspoken tone.
“I don’t talk that much,” Brickman pitches in sheepishly. “You can do the talking.”
It’s all just a joke, but that sequence could very well sum up how the Mono Vampire have been able to barge their way into the ABL Finals this season as the Fourth seed. Singletary has done most of the talking (and scoring) while Deguara has jumped in with big moments from time to time.
Between all of this, Brickman quietly does the work as the point guard that keeps the engine going. That’s how their games have gone for most of the ABL season. Brickman has averaged 10.4 points and 10.3 assists in the regular season as the facilitator for the team.
But now that we’re in full swing of the ABL Playoffs, it seems like we’re seeing another version of the Filipino-American guard.
As the players are joking around about the game that had just ended in thrilling fashion — a buzzer beating game winner — Brickman fires a shot at Singletary out of the blue.
“Make your free throws, Mike.” He says with a slight grin, just enough so that everyone knows he’s being playful. He is, of course, referring to Singletary’s consecutive missed free throws towards the end of the game that nearly jeopardised the eventual win for the team.
“What do you mean?!” Singletary says in mock rage. “That’s the first time!”
Brickman then points out a missed free throw in their close encounter against the Singapore Slingers.
“Did we win those games?” Singletary asks Brickman. He then turns to address the press in the room. “Everybody thinks Jason is so nice.”
“He’s not nice.”
This brings down a rain of laughter which doubles when Brickman adds “If you’re sweet to me, then I’m sweet to you” in reply.
That’s how the playoffs have gone so far for Mono Vampire. Jason Brickman has not been nice to the opposition at all. Averaging a double-double as Brickman did is a stellar achievement in itself. However, for as great Brickman was in the regular season, he’s just been even more spectacular in the postseason.
“I always play my best in the playoffs.” Brickman says.
It seems a clichè statement, but one that he can back up with statistics. The point guard has been averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 10.8 assists on 56.3 FG% and 54.5 3P%. Those numbers are notably higher than his regular season line.
Even in his rookie season with the Westports Malaysia Dragons, Brickman’s performance in the Playoffs was good enough to edge out teammates and regular season MVPs Reggie Johnson (World Import) and Matthew Wright (Heritage Import) for the Finals MVP award.
There’s a certain calmness to how Brickman plays that intensifies and further enhances how well he performs when the postseason arrives. The difference is so significant that it almost feels like Brickman has just been cruising and waiting for the Playoffs to come so that he can flip the switch.
Singletary jokes about how he has to keep telling Brickman that he never shoots the ball whether it’s during practice or even in some games.
“Mike, just wait. I’ll starting shooting the ball.” Brickman would reply.
Once Mono Vampire advanced to the Semifinals, Jason Brickman started shooting the ball. A lot.
He started the series by dropping a career-high of 25 points and followed in Game 2 with 23 points. In the two games against Chong Son Kung Fu, Brickman averaged 18.5 attempts which is more than double of his 8.8 attempts during the regular season. That heightened amount of triggering comes with a good reason and has also ended up with good results.
“I know the teams are taking away my passes and they’re not going to help on me,” Brickman assesses his Semifinals outburst. “They’re really staying on Mike and Sam and this is the time where I have to be aggressive early on and take my shots. Especially in this series, I’m really gonna have to score if we wanted a chance to win so it was my mindset just to be aggressive and take shots.”
“He sees the game a lot differently than everybody else,” Singletary chimes in. “He sees the way people are guarding me and Sam and Paul [Zamar].”
“That’s J-Brick Five,” He continues. “That’s what he does. Great point guard, great leader. Just great for our team.”
Playoff Mode Jason Brickman (aka Playoff J) is now once again heading back to the ABL Finals, two seasons after he last won it with the Dragons in 2015-2016. After watching him torch Chong Son Kung Fu, it also looks like he’s heating up at just the right time.
At one point during the postgame press conference, Singletary and Apiromvilaichai are joking about how physical the game had been. They turned to Brickman and mentioned about how he had taken a hit.
“Who [hit] me?” Brickman asked cluelessly.
“I dunno. Someone [hit] you in the face,” Singletary replied which resulted in Brickman giving a blank and confused expression.
“He’s like I dunno, I dunno,” Singletary says, rolling his eyes. “I’m bleeding from the mouth but I dunno what happened.”
Brickman laughs innocently at the conversation, but that might have been what awoken “Playoff J”.
Because when you aren’t nice to Playoff J, then he won’t be nice back to you as well.