Showing resiliency, perseverance, and the will to survive, the Mono Vampire Basketball Club have done the improbable: sweeping the number one seed Formosa Dreamers.
The eighth-seed team pulled a rabbit out of a hat in the closing moments of Game 2 to carve out a hard-fought 70-68 victory, Wednesday at Stadium 29, in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
Romeo Travis hit a game-winning putback with 2.8 seconds remaining that sent his team to the semifinals while the Dreamers kissed their season goodbye.
“I just played so bad today, I was just trying to make a play, you know?” Travis humbly said as he was 4-for-16 prior to the late tip-in. “Honestly, I didn’t play well today. Nobody shot the ball well, as you can see with the low-scoring game. I was just trying to make a play, honestly.”
It was a heroic performance for Travis and the rest of Mono Vampire in the dying seconds. Down by two after Tevin Glass hit a tough basket in the paint with 34 seconds left, the home team already looked like they were down for the count. They failed to convert on their next offensive possession and was forced to foul to stop the clock. The time read 7.6 seconds with the ball at the hands of the Dreamers.
However, the Mono Vampire simply refused to lose. Similar to their incredible run in the latter half of the regular season that pushed them into the playoffs, they also showed their winning attitude in the last 7.6 seconds.
First, Mono played tenacious defense to come up with a five-second inbound violation call on Kenny Chien. Mike Singletary went for the win as the clock winded down but he was fouled by taking a three by Chen Shih Nien. Singletary swished his first two foul shots to tie the game. He missed the second but Travis was there for the putback to give Mono the lead.
“These are basketball plays that you can’t [afford] make to win a game,” Travis said on their opponent. “And that’s how they lost the game by just mistakes you can’t make at the end of the game. You can’t foul a shooter, you gotta get the ball in, then they turned the ball over at the end of the game – these are just mistakes you can’t make at the end of the game”
Mono had one last trick up their sleeve in the last 2.8 seconds as Travis played tremendous individual defense to force a jumpball on Malcolm Miller. The possession arrow belonged to the home team and that proved to be the cherry on top of their great endgame performance.
“You see the shirts? They say never say die,” Travis said, pointing at the “Vampires Never Die” orange shirts that the crowd was wearing. “We just came here with the mentality of just never say die. We didn’t want to go back to Taiwan.”
Travis finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks. Singletary led all scorers with 24 points, including five triples, as well as 10 rebounds. Malcolm White meanwhile returned from his one-game suspension and was aggressive all-game, tallying 20 points, 11 boards, and four rejections.
The Dreamers did all they could to keep their playoffs alive but just didn’t have enough in the end. Glass poured in a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds. Malcolm Miller, who also missed Game 1, had an all-around outing of 16 points, five rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Completing the Dreamers Big Three was Will Artino, but he had a forgetful last game, scoring just 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting. Though he did have 10 rebounds, five steals, and three blocks, his scoring was sorely missed by his team.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but we made plays when it counted most. And that’s what we have to do – make plays,” Travis said, as Thailand now looks ahead.
Mono Vampire will move on the semifinals and will wait for the winner between the Saigon Heat and BTN CLS Knights Indonesia.