On paper, the battle between the top team in the league going up against the eighth seed should be a lopsided affair. However, no one is writing off Mono Vampire as they are about to take on the Formosa Dreamers on the road to open their quarterfinal series.
Last season, the stories of these two teams were very different. Formosa was the worst team in the league as they only finished with a single win all season. Mono Vampire flew under the radar and then heated up at that right moment, upsetting top-seeded Chong Son Kung Fu in the semifinals before falling one game away from winning the ABL title.
Mono Vampire, for the second straight season, is tasked to score an upset against the top team but they have been preparing for it since finally getting their bearings midway through the elimination round.
The big challenge in facing the Dreamers is that they are a very good team at home. In the elimination round, they only lost two of 13 games at the Changhua County Stadium.
Mono Vampire, on the other end, has only won four games on the road in the elimination round but they are hoping that drastic changes right before the start of the ABL playoffs will give them a jolt of energy. They parted ways with head coach Marty Douglas and elevated Tongkiat Singhasene to the lead role.
Both Formosa and Mono Vampire have three outstanding imports and the main matchup will feature Malcolm Miller and Mike Singletary. Both are multi-talented wingmen who can dominate the game.
The big man battle will also be key as Malcolm White faces off against Tevin Glass. The most important factor here is determining how many playable minutes White will get. He has had problems with staying on the floor due to foul troubles and sometimes even because of technical fouls. If he keeps this in check, then Mono Vampire will have a much better shot as they’ll have a big body to battle Glass.
Another key matchup will be between Romeo Travis and Will Artino. The Mono Vampire veteran import will have to play a big role not just as a player but also as a leader. Because of his vast experience, his leadership will be important as he could be an extra tactician, specially without Marty on the bench for them.
Among the locals, the most talented among the two teams is Tyler Lamb. He could be the difference that will give Mono Vampire the lift they need.
One of the bottom teams already scored an upset when Hong Kong Eastern took home-court advantage away from the defending champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas so Mono Vampire should be hopeful that it is possible for an eighth seed to shock the top seed.