The Mono Vampire Basketball Club face their toughest challenge yet as they go toe-to-toe with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ABL Finals.
During the regular season, Mono lost two disheartening games against Alab, including a 27-point at home in their first meeting. Their second game was a much tighter contest, but Mono still came out empty-handed.
Mono, who toppled the number one ranked Chong Son Kung Fu in the semis, know what they’re up against.
“They’re the hottest team in the league right now,” head coach Douglas Marty said about their impending battle. “It’s gonna be a huge challenge, especially going there and playing two games in the Philippines.”
“That’s a great team over there. When they played us here the first time and we got smacked, we kinda had a bad taste in our mouths about that,” Michael Singletary recalled. “We kinda came back and really, really focused in on what we needed to do. We played them in Manila and we played them really tough. We didn’t come out with the win, but I felt like we were better there.”
Despite going 0-2 in the regular season, the Thailand-based team is ready to wage war.
“I’m excited for the challenge to go against those guys and go against that team,” Singletary shared. “And play in Manila. That’s an awesome atmosphere to be able to play in. So for us to be and them in the Finals I think that’s great.”
“I’m also really excited to play in the Philippines,” agreed Jason Brickman. “It’s always gonna be a great environment, great fans there. It’s the game I wanted to play, the matchup I wanted in the playoffs.”
Singletary, Brickman, together with fellow imports Sam Deguara and Paul Zamar, as well as the entire Mono squad, will be pitted against a talented Alab Pilipinas.
“They beat us twice. We know how good they are with (Renaldo) Balkman and (Justin) Brownlee, it’s a tough matchup,” pointed out Brickman. “We got to really prepare this week and come out strong and ready to play.”
Singletary, one of the league’s potent scorers will try to bring his A-game against Brownlee, who’s a versatile scorer in his own right. 7-foot-5 Deguara will try to use his height advantage against the strong defensive prowess of Balkman. Zamar, who happens to be a Filipino, has to bounce back from his quiet semis series and provide firepower for Mono. Brickman himself will have a tough matchup if Alab chooses to put Ray Parks, their best perimeter defender, on him.
Fortunately, Brickman has cranked up his game in the playoffs. From simply a pass-first point guard in the regular season, he has been more aggressive on offense. He even had a 25-pont, 15-assist night against Kung Fu in Game 1 of their semis series.
“I always play my best in the playoffs. I know teams are game-planning well. They’re trying to stick to my passes, really staying on Mike, Sam, and Paul,” said Brickman, who won the ABL championship two years ago with the Westports Malaysia Dragons. “So I’ll really have openings to score and I have to take those shots early on.”
Mono needs to have all hands on deck when the ABL Finals kicks off this Sunday. Brickman has to be aggressive, Singletary has to provide the numbers, as do Deguara and Zamar. Guys like Teerawat Chanthachon, Darongpan Apiromvilaichai, and Chitchai Ananti have to provide the energy.
“Our work is cut out for us but we’ll do our best and come up with the best game plan we can and try to reenergize and be ready for Sunday,” mentioned coach Marty.
Mono already lost twice to Alab early in the season and now they have to win three times to get to the ABL title. It will be tall order but they are up to the challenge.