The last time that Mono Vampire Basketball Club’s Reggie Johnson and Jason Brickman were at the MABA Stadium during the ABL season, the scene was of absolute joy and celebration. They helped the Westports Malaysia Dragons win the first ABL championship in history in three hard fought games against the Singapore Slingers. Johnson and Brickman were a devastating duo, both able to dominate the game in very different ways. And when the buzzer sounded that afternoon, they were assured of their legacy as champions in the ABL.
Things have changed since then. Reggie and Jason are no longer Dragons. The Dragons’ Den was refurbished, almost as if to welcome back it’s former tenants. Most importantly, the duo are on the opposite sides, now. This past Saturday they arrived to the MABA Stadium not as friends, but as foes.
And they were treated accordingly. “When I was here, these guys loved me,” Reggie Johnson said. “Now that I’m an opposing player, they’re supposed to hate me and talk junk. So i’m gonna talk back to these guys.”
Jounson did a lot of talking in Mono Vampire’s 107-90 win over the Dragons. He was jawing with fans in attendance, and celebrated every shot, especially the clutch triples that helped seal the win. Brickman on the other hand let his game do the talking. He finished with a double-double in points and assists, the calming presence on the squad that the Dragons had grown so accustomed to having two years ago when he was on the roster.
When the game ended, and the jobs they set out to accomplish had been done, the competition gave way to celebration with their former teammates. Each of the Dragons who had played with the duo approached them, sharing hugs and words. Even the fans who were talking trash with Johnson approached him to take a selfie.
It was all love, in the end, exactly what the former Dragons expected.
“It’s a special place for me and Reg,” Brickman shared. “Playing against these guys, I’m really close to a lot of them. There are a lot of good guys. I still keep in touch with a lot of them. It’s a lot of fun to be out here and play against them. We were looking forward to it. We play them four times, and it’s gonna be fun.”
It wasn’t too fun for the Dragons, as their former teammates were able to get the win, dropping them to a 1-2 card. But they had a lot to be proud of. They battled Mono Vampire until the very end despite missing Marcus Marshall who skipped the game because of an injury. Their win over Mono Vampire showed the talent that’s on this squad. It was also added motivation for Brickman and his teammates heading into their second matchup against Malaysia.
“They took one from us at home,” said Brickman. “They played a great game, and it was a really tough game, double overtime. We wanted to bounce back today. We wanted to come out with energy. We knew they were gonna play zone defense, and we wanted to be ready for that attack. And we did a much better job today.”
“It was big, especially with them being in our division,” Johnson added. “We didn’t want to go 0-2 to these guys. Especially coming back home to KL, those guys know how big coming back home to me and Jason is.”
The concept of home can be a tricky one when you’re a well-traveled import like Johnson. But in Malaysia, he found exactly that. He and Brickman were part of a magical run that no one can takeway, wherever they go. That is way coming back to the MABA Stadium will always bring back memories.
“I talk to these guys all the time,” Johnson admitted. “We won a championship together. This is a big family. It’s special here, and I really do love this place. But right now, I’m a competitor. I hate them right now. But now the game is over, it’s all love.”