I was going to start this around the end of the week, as I expected the ABL to start announcing the awards during the weekend. Imagine how shocked I felt when I saw the Facebook post from the ABL that announced the Justin Williams was announced as Defensive Player of the Year (Congratulations, by the way).
So, without further adieu, here are the Tones & Definition’s awards for the ABL Season 2014.
Defensive Player of the Year
This award was a two race from the start to the finish. It was gonna be either Justin Williams, who anchored the Saigon Heat defense, or Chris Charles, defending Defensive Player of the Year and center piece of the best defensive unit in the ABL.
The numbers certainly back these two up. Williams led the League in Defensive Rebounds, Rebounds, Blocks. Williams was, as dubbed by Saigon commentator Darren Joe, a Human Eraser, erasing a large amount of shots directed at the Saigon Heat basket. He accounts for the top 4 highest amount of blocks in a game this season, highlighted by that amazing 18 point, 20 rebound 12 block triple-double he had against Laskar Dreya. To put that 12 block game into a more comprehensive perspective, no other team amounted that many blocks as Justin Williams, other than the Saigon Heat themselves in the same game. Again, Justin Williams got the Highest amount of rebounds
Chris Charles had a good season as well, coming in second in the league in Blocks. He also came in second in the League in Rebounds, but keep in mind that he had to share those rebounds with another tenacious defensive-minded rebounder like Steven Thomas in the same front court.
The advanced stats favor Chris Charles a bit more, with Charles leading the league in Block Percentage. Block percentage is the rate the a player blocks an opponent’s 2 point field goal attempt. Hi-Tech Bangkok City played a more lock down defense than the Saigon Heat who funneled players into Justin Williams’ fly swatter wrath, so Chris has that advantage here.
My Pick: Chris Charles, Hi-Tech Bangkok City
My rationale for this pick is the same as why Joakim Noah won Defensive Player of the Year last year and Dwight Howard or DeAnre Jordan didn’t. Sure Jordan and Howard were great shot rejectors and they rebounded the hell out of the ball, but Noah was near the top of the list in both categories as well while also anchoring a Chicago Bulls team that allowed the least points and lowest opponents Field Goal % in the NBA. That’s something that Dwight Howard ot DeAndre Jordan can’t say, whether it is their fault or not.
As aforementioned, Chris Charles is the centerpiece of a very good defensive team that allows the lowest field goal percentage in the ABL. He should be recognized for that.
Honorable mention: Avery Scharer, Justin Howard, O’Neal Mims
Avery Scharer was a beast on defense, pressuring opposing guards, averaging a league high 2.79 steals per game with a steal rate of 4.6%, the highest of any player in the ABL who played a significant amount of minutes. The reason that the bigs of the KL Dragons didn’t get to swat as many shots was in part because of his backcourt defense. Justin Howard’s block number don’t really show anything, but he was a space eater who gobbled rebounds and disturbed more shots with out actually blocking them. O’Neal Mims played a small amount of games with the Warriors (in which they didn’t lose a single game), but in those game he was versatile on the defensive end.
By the time this article was done, the ABL defensive player of the year award had been announced to be Justin Williams, thus making the very first part of this article a swing and a miss. Williams certainly deserves his award, but it’s just my opinion that Chris Charles should have came home with this bacon.
Best Announcing Team
My Pick: Darren C. Joe, Saigon Heat
This was a very tough pick with so many entertaining figures roaming the sidelines and broadcasting boxes in the ABL, whether it’s professionals like Ben Ibrahim and Patrick Kinghorn, or enthusiastic figures like Linora Low. However, Darren Joe really knows how to call out the games and he is just a pleasure to listen to in clutch games.
Best Dancing Squad
Everyone’s Pick: The Dragonettes, Westports Malaysia Dragons
The Saigon Heat had a nice dance crew and they danced really good, as were the Slinger’s Dance Crew. Hi-Tech didn’t have a dance drew, and I think neither did the Warriors nor Laskar Dreya.
But seriously though, was anyone going to get this award other than the Dragonette’s who got a whole ABL exclusive segment to themselves?
A lot of factors went into this pick. You have the four contenders as Hi-Tech and Laskar Dreya didn’t have a mascot.
In one corner, you have Ông Ba Mươi which means Tiger in Vietnamese, but is also wordplay for “Mr. 30” which is the mascot’s jersey number. I love the wordplay and I love his enthusiasm.
In another corner, you have the “Super Warrior” from the Indonesia Warriors. The name was way too lazy guys. Gotta step up the name game.
Moving on, you get “Fury the Dragon” from Westports Malaysia Dragons. The name gives you a feel out of how the Dragons will come out to play, and it kind of pumps you up a bit. You could say the same about “Super Warrior”, but that would be like saying the name “Super Dragon” for the mascot is acceptable. It is not.
Finally, you get “Merlion” of the Singapore Slingers. This was probably the easiest choice of mascot to have been made in the ABL. I guess you could say that the naming was almost as lazy as “Super Warrior”, but “Merlion” is a cool enough name to let pass.
Now that we have gone through the contenders and their pros and cons, let’s make a decision for who shall be the best in the most mature way possible: pitting them in an imaginary free-for-all death match.
The bell rings to start off the match, and Ông Ba Mươi goes out of the competition quickly. He is a tiger and all, but what else does he have going for him? Going up against a DRAGON, a SUPER WARRIOR, and MYTHICAL CREATURE, a mere tiger doesn’t stand a chance.
You might counter that by questioning the Merlion’s chance because the real Merlion has just a fishes lower torso (Read: No FEET). I shall counter that by saying that, it’s my imaginative death match and I shall create the rules. We’re going by the physical attributes as seen on the costume. So the Merlion lives on.
Fury the Dragon may be a Dragon which, according to Game of Thrones, beats everything but he seems a bit overweight and only has two teeth. He’s also never shown that he can breath fire, a must for awesome dragons, so that’s a huge disadvantage to Fury. Fury has wings that can’t help him fly, so they are going to be used against him here. Fury is out because he can’t keep up with the pace of SUPER WARRIOR and MERLION.
It’s down to a one-on-one match up and the tension is high. You look at Merlion’s face and he’s showing fatigue beneath the beastly scowl. And then you look at Super Warrior, and you don’t see a sign of anything because he’s wearing a mask. Super Warrior works down Merlion psychologically, before eventually taking down the mythical creature because he is a SUPER WARRIOR.
My pick (selected by the most complicated decision-making algorithm known to mankind): Super Warrior, Indonesia Warriors.
I was blessed with the opportunity to attend ABL games at 4 of their sites and each were as impressive as the next. I will base my award on these four arenas alone, and will look forward to visiting the Indonesia Warriors BritAMA Stadium, as well as Laskar Dreya’s Hi-Test Arena.
Thai-Japanese Stadium, Hi-Tech Bangkok City: I attended a grand total of 1 game here this season. Very Large and spacious. The seats in the stadium all get a nice view of the court as the seats are elevated up from the court level. However, this also means that the spectators are spaced quite a lot from the players bench, both a good thing (in terms of minimizing disturbance to the athletes) and a bad thing (in terms of interaction with fans). The Air Conditioning broke down for the final regular season game between Hi-Tech and Slingers which I attended, which is not a good thing. The easiest way to access the stadium is via Taxi, which is mildly disappointing considering the network of the skytrain system in Bangkok. Hi-Tech did not have any tailgate events or booths.
CIS Arena, Saigon Heat: I attended this arena for a whopping 8 games as I was the easiest for me to access being based in Vietnam. It is basically a high school gym, making it easy to pack up. Very little separation between players and crowd and the Heat organization used that to their advantage to place one of the Feistiest hecklers in the league right behind the away bench. The facilities are great albeit the small men’s toilets which I understand were intended for the students of CIS (Canadian International School). The Heat had an awesome tailgate area with hotdogs and jerseys and beer.
MABA Stadium, Westports Malaysia Dragons: I attended this court for 2 games. The court of the Malaysian Basketball Association was a tad bit disappointing because I felt it was always a bit gloomy. MABA is the only stadium of the 4 I attended which did not have any seats behind baskets, but the seats along the side court gave a good atmosphere once filled up. I loved the Budwiser sales directly to the seats, no need to get up to refresh yourself with a nice cold one. The VIP lounge was a nice idea and adds another dimension for spectating.
However, My Pick: OCBC Arena, Singapore Slingers
I attended the OCBC Arena for 2 games, and I have to say that their Stadium was top notch. The lighting was great, as referred to a team photographer as one of the best for photography. The scoreboard was the best, being able to notify the players names, points, and fouls. While the venue did lack a flow of food and beverage, there was a mall nearby so it was still in accessible range. The best thing about this venue was that it is placed directly at the SMRT Station “Stadium”, making it very convenient to travel to.
Coach of the Year
My Pick: Coach Ariel Vanguardia, Westports Malaysia Dragons
I’m a sucker for extreme style coaches, so it was going to be either coach Neo Beng Siang with his Grind it Out style or Coach AV with his Run & Gun style. Coach Jhing Ruiz of Hi-Tech Bangkok City doesn’t really have a definite style of play, even though he adapts well to the players he has. I have to regret to say that I am not that familiar with the Indonesian Coaches and teams as much, which is an area I will look to improve further on in the future.
However, I enjoy the passionate outbursts of Coach AV on the court side and how he goes through his interviews with a sense of the cool kid in high school everyone wants to be friends with. Coach AV emphasizes the word “Family” in building up his team and you get a sense and feel that the players are all into it. AV is able to manage his players to know their roles, know what their strengths are, and stick to that, so you rarely see the Dragons “force” something on the basketball court.
Plus his nickname is AV, which always wins points for porn enthusiasts like myself (just kidding, just kidding).
Honorable Mention: Coach Jason Rabedeaux, Saigon Heat (RIP)
By now, we all know about Coach Jason Rabedeaux and his passing, so I’m going to leave that part out. But as much as Coach AV is a player’s coach, Coach Jason Rabedeaux was even more so. He took details int he little details about his players and united them into one unit. Not a slight to successive Coach, Tony Garbaletto, when Coach Rab passed away the team was really shook and seemed to go in different ways.
So that wraps it up for the first part of our awards, stay tuned for the next part in the next couple of days.