During the ASEAN Basketball League’s sixth season, Jason Brickman was a wide-eyed point guard who took the league by storm with his innate passing skills and overall court awareness. He became a must-watch sensation, cheered by fans, and respected by opponents.
He eventually led his team, the Westports Malaysia Dragons, to its first ever ABL title in franchise history back in 2015. The Filipino-American guard’s astonishing play in the epic five-game championship series against the Singapore Slingers earned him MVP Finals honors.
Two years later, Jason Brickman is on a new mission.
After basking in the glory of an ABL championship, he wants to win another one. And this time, he wants to do it as part of the Mono Vampire Basketball Club.
On Friday, Mono began its postseason when it took on the Singapore Slingers in a quarterfinals matchup. They took the grueling 85-82 Game 1 victory with Brickman notching Player of the Game honors as he filled the stats sheet with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, and 5 steals. Despite the struggles of World Imports Sam Deguara and Michael Singletary, Brickman was able to steer his team toward for the hard-fought win.
“They’re always good defensively, even from last time when we played them in the ABL,” said Brickman, who is very familiar with the gritty Slingers team. “Every year, they really have good defensive game plans. They’re really aggressive on the ball screens and they rotate really well.”
Mono entered the playoffs this season as the best offensive team, racking up points with ease. They are number one in points per game, field goal percentage, and assists. The catalyst of their potent offense is none other than Brickman himself. This year, he led the league in assists with 10.3 a game. Just as he was an efficient point guard for the Dragons three years ago, he is just as deadly with the Mono Vampire.
However, Game 1 served as a wakeup call for the Thailand-based team. Their usually well-oiled offense was not able to keep in-step with the defensive traps set by the Slingers. They were pulled into a dogfight, scrapping for points and possessions.
Mono eventually hung on thanks to a late fourth quarter push. Paul Zamar hit a pair of clutch three-pointers and Teerawat Chanthachon provided quality minutes after Deguara fouled out.
“I think the guys off the bench came in and gave us a good boost,” Brickman commended his teammates. “We got back right into the game.”
Mono’s fourth quarter rally was no fluke if you ask Brickman and his teammates. The team’s experience playing in the Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL) the past years helped them prepare for ABL playoff basketball.
“I think playing in the TBSL helped us a lot because playing against HiTech, playing two tough games in the finals, prepared us for this game,” shared Brickman. “We were able to just grind it out and stay in the game, get some stops, get some steals, and get some lay ups on the other end.”
Mono are back-to-back champions in Thailand, beating Mono Thew in 2017 and Hi Tech in 2018. After a brief ABL hiatus, they are out to prove that they can also be champions against the best teams in the region.
“It would be a great accomplishment,” said Brickman about a possible ABL title. “I think this is the best the ABL has ever been. All the teams in the playoffs have the ability to win it so it’s gonna be really tough. I think the best team is gonna win. You just have to play good basketball.”
The road to Brickman’s second ABL title will be a long and arduous road. Last Friday was only Game 1 of a quarterfinals series and there is still a ton of basketball left to be played in the postseason.
And for Brickman, it’s all about being a leader as his team aims for the title.
“I just try to bring my leadership, try to push the pace, try to get our guys some good shots,” he shared. “Just do what I can to help the team on offense. Defensively, just try to help out, get some steals, do whatever I can on both ends of the floor. The playoffs are tough, going on the road is gonna be a big challenge for us to win in Singapore.”
Brickman and the rest of Mono Vampire will try to book a ticket to the semifinals if they can win Game 2 against the Singapore Slingers.