It’s hard to fathom that there are at least two more games in what has been a heart-stopping ABL Finals between San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and Mono Vampire Basketball Club. After two thrilling games in the Philippines, the series is tied with one win apiece.
“Our guys never gave up, and that’s what it takes,” said a relieved Mono coach Douglas Marty after Game 2 last Sunday. “We’re so happy the ball bounced our way.”
As the action shifts to Stadium 29 in Bangkok, the overlying theme has been the high-octane offense by the two ball clubs.
In Game 1, Mono and Alab put out an offensive spectacle, reaching a record-setting 273 points combined. Justin Brownlee alone scored 46 points, a Finals record, in the 143-130 Alab overtime victory. It was an utmost display of shot-making, clutch baskets, and breath-taking action.
Game 2 was just as intense, as both teams reached the century mark. The final score was “only” 103-100 in favor of Mono, but there were still offensive fireworks put out by the two teams.
Throughout the regular season, Mono established itself as a well-oiled machine, owning the best offense in the league. They play at such a high pace with their floor general Jason Brickman leading their attack. Add the league’s top gunner in Michael Singletary, the tallest person in every arena in Sam Deguara, a streaky shooter in Paul Zamar, Mono puts an incredible amount of pressure on every opponent they face. Since the Finals had been played at incredibly fast tempo, one might think that the high-scoring affair favors the Thailand team.
“Not really,” Marty casually pointed out. “It kinda cancels itself out because they (Alab) can play with pace as well. They’re very fast and very quick. Of course we like that as well.”
Setting the pace is one thing, but actually converting shots is another. What makes Alab and Mono seem like they’re playing in a free-for-all pickup game is that both teams have showcased incredible shot making.
But offense isn’t everything in this series. After Game 1 both teams admitted that they each allowed way too many points for their liking. The adjustment was evident in Game 2 and Mono was able to carve out the win.
“It’s kinda like two heavyweights slugging it out knowing we had a show up our defense,” assessed Marty. “And we did a much better job defensively than Game 1.”
“But I think both teams will be themselves in Game 3 and of course there’s always adjustments. There were a lot of adjustments between Game 1 and 2, there will be some adjustments in Game 3,” he went on.
One such adjustment Marty and his staff did was to keep Deguara in the ball game for Game 2. The 7-foot-5 giant has been a force in the paint for Mono Vampire and the only thing that’s been stopping him from dominating the series is foul trouble. He fouled out in Game 1 and nearly did the same in Game 2. Fortunately, Mono figured out a way to keep him on the floor for Game 2.
“I think the number one thing was the way we used Sam - keeping him on the court and protecting the basket,” shared Marty. “There probably won’t be any secrets from Alab because they have a sharp coaching staff. They’re gonna look at everything very closely. I can’t give you my playbook, but I think keeping Sam on the floor is probably a big key for us.”
Deguara was a wrecking ball in the paint, notching a double-double of 30 points and 20 rebounds. His involvement for the next game will undoubtedly be critical for Mono Vampire.
By the looks of it, Game 3 is shaping up to be another instant classic. Pace and tempo will remain factors in what has been an action-packed series.
“I think the general personality of each team will be evident in Game 3, and it will be a quick high-scoring affair as well,” Marty said.