The offensive juggernaut known as the Mono Vampire Basketball Club found themselves struggling for points in Game 1 of their quarterfinals matchup against the Singapore Slingers last Friday.
The third-seed team was still able to carve out an 85-82 win to draw first blood, but their usually reliable offense was strangled by the best defensive team in the league.
“I’m thankful for the effort of our players because Singapore – they were very good today, very well prepared,” admitted Mono head coach Douglas Marty. “We spun our wheel for most of the game and they went into some matchup advantages and we had to adjust.”
Mono ended up just shooting 38 percent from the field, a far cry from their league-leading season average of 49.4 percent. Their usually free-flowing offense looked slow and their customary pinpoint attacks to the basket were hard to come by.
Through 20 games, the Thailand-based squad lit up the scoreboard with a 101.2-point average every game. By the end of the third period in Game 1, they only had 62 points – a clear indication of how they had a difficult time against the defensive schemes of Singapore.
The low scoring output by Mono may seem alarming, but coach Marty isn’t one to be surprised.
“Well we expected it, first of all. In playoff basketball the defense tightens up,” he explained. “The energy is higher. Execution needs to be better. Points usually come down.”
Marty continued by pointing out that they obviously wanted to score more but Singapore’s defense of their transition game became a factor. What was usually a source of easy opportunities became a tedious ask.
The Slingers were also able to limit Mono’s number one weapon – Michael Singletary. The World Import led the league in scoring during the regular season with 29.8 points a game. In Game 1, he finished with just 15 points on a woeful 4-for-16 shooting clip.
“I think they played us differently. I think they tried to make it hard on Jason (Brickman) and they tried to make it hard on me too,” Singletary expressed. “They (Slingers) were making sure we weren’t able to kinda get to our spots and doing what we want to do – which is what they’re supposed to do. They’re a good team.”
Fortunately for Singletary, his teammates picked up the slack. Darongpan Apiromvilaichai had a huge first quarter en route to 19 points and Paul Zamar came up clutch with back-to-back triples late in the ball game. Big man Teerawat Chanthachon also played critical minutes especially when Deguara fouled out of the game.
And then of course there was Jason Brickman who had a stunning game of 6 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, and 5 steals in an all-around effort. Mono may have had a quiet outing from their two World Imports, but the rest of the team were enough to outlast the Slingers.
“It shows our depth. We believe in those guys and they stepped up,” Marty proudly said about the different contributions he got from his squad.
“That’s our team. The kind of team that we is we always have guys that pick each other up,” echoed Singletary. “It’s not just one guy, or two guys, it’s a team. That’s just how we were able to grind it out.”
Thanks to Brickman’s tenacity to find open teammates, Apiromvilaichai’s hot hand, and Zamar’s late game heroics, Mono was able to overcome their poor offensive outing. They may not have reached their season scoring average, but they still managed to come out on top with a total team effort.
Mono will now try to close out the series in Game 2 on the road against the defensive-minded Slingers. They are determined that they will eventually get their offense going while maintaining a strong defensive effort on the other end.
“Because it’s playoff basketball, we’re gonna have to play good defense on Sunday. To close out on the road, we’re gonna need one of our best defensive efforts of the year,” Marty confidently shared. “And then hopefully, the offense can get on track but we expect a really tough game on Sunday.”
As for the number one scorer in the league Singletary, he knows he will find his shooting touch in Game 2.
“Oh I’ll be back,” he boldly said.