It all comes down to one final game.
After four grueling, entertaining, and heart-stopping Finals games, the Mono Vampire Basketball Club and San Miguel Alab Pilipinas stand on the precipice of ASEAN Basketball League glory. Only one team can be crowned champion after the dust settles in Game 5. And as expected, both teams are prepared to lay everything on the hardwood.
“It’s gonna take our best game of the year to close out Game 5 in the Philippines,” Mono head coach Douglas Marty said after his team tied the series last Monday.
For Alab, coach Jimmy Alapag is just as eager to take on the challenge. “We wanted to come to Thailand and get a split, we got a split. We got Game 5 at home,” he bluntly said after the Game 4 loss.
As the series reaches its epic conclusion, it will boil down to adjustments and execution.
Alab amped up their defense in Game 4 holding Mono their lowest scoring output in the Finals with 88 points.
“We limited them under a 100 that’s what we wanted to do,” Ray Parks shared.
The Philippine team was one win away from claiming the title and it seemed they had the perfect plan in Game 4. Unfortunately, they shot themselves in the foot with their errors.
“We can’t beat a team like that and have 20 plus turnovers,” Parks said, as Alab committed 26 miscues, 19 of which coming in the first half alone. “Basically, were giving them the ball.”
On the other end, Mono wants to limit Alab’s offensive rebounding. In Game 4, Alab got 26 rebounds from the offensive glass and the win, making it a point of emphasis for coach Marty and his team. In Game 5, they only allowed Alab to get 18 offensive boards.
“18 is still a lot, but it’s not 28,” Marty observed. “We have to cut down that number as well. They’re so good. This is the toughest team to block out of any team in the league. It’s really hard to beat a team if you give them second chances.”
Pace has also been a significant factor in the series. As mentioned earlier, Alab held Mono below the century mark for the first time in these Finals. The winner-take-all fifth game will be about who can find enforce their will on the other.
“I think the defense is getting better. They’re making adjustments, we’re making adjustments,” said Jason Brickman, who has been the motor for the Mono offense. “Just playing them so many times, you figure out what each guy does, you just try to counter and adjust the defense, adjust your offense.”
“It’s just about who’s gonna execute and play hard and who’s gonna want it more in Game 5,” he added.
More than the X’s and O’s, Game 5 will be defined by effort, perseverance, and determination. If the past four games are any indication of what the last game of the season will be, then it will all boil down to who wants it more, as cliché as it sounds.
“It’s like a war of attrition,” Marty said it best. “Hopefully, Game 5 will be the best of the series.”