Let’s take a look at the Mono Vampires in the ABL!
The ASEAN Basketball League starts in a few days, so I think that it’s time that we started discussing in details about all of the teams now that each team has started filling in their Imports quotas.
The league will consist of six teams from 5 countries (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines). Each team will play each other 4 times to make a 20 game season. The top 4 teams advance to the Playoffs where they will play best out of 3 series to determine the champion.
Team rosters are consisted of 16 players.
Two slots in that roster can be used on “World Imports”. World Imports can basically be any player from anywhere in the world. Teams usually use this quota on American Imports who played close to the basket.
Another two slots in the roster can be allocated to ASEAN/Heritage Imports. Here is my understanding of the import ruling:
An ASEAN Import is any player with either
- full ASEAN Nationality of a different country that the country that the team resides in
- has a parent that has full ASEAN Nationality of a different country which the team resides in but was born and raised outside of the ASEAN Countries.
For example, the Singapore Slingers (the team resides in Singapore) could have used one of their ASEAN Import quota to sign me (a Full Thai Citizen) to their roster. Instead, they signed Kris Rosales (a Filipino-American).
A Heritage import is any player who
- has a parent that has full Nationality of the country which the team resides in but was born and raised outside of the ASEAN Countries.
Last year, we saw the Saigon Heat exercise the Heritage Import on David Viet Arnold (mother is full Vietnamese). It worked so well for them that they used the quota on him again this year. In addition to the Saigon Heat, Hitech Bangkok City of Thailand also used the Heritage Import quota by signing Half-Thais Freddie Goldstein and Tyler Lamb.
The wordings of the qualifications for the quotas might be a bit more complicated in the official terms of the ABL, but the main idea is there.
I guess we could say the the Mono Vampires are living on a fast track. Like a really, really, really, fast track. The team was established in February 2014. Fast forward 1 year and 9 months later, they will be entering the largest international league in the ASEAN Region after having secured their first championship of the largest basketball competition in their country (Thailand Basketball League). Things just seem to keep going in the right direction for the Mono Vampires as of late and they should be hoping that it stays that way.
ABL Season 5 Previous Season Recap
The Mono Vampires are new to the ASEAN Basketball League so instead I’ll have to discuss here about what they had been up to last year.
The Vampires were founded in February 2014 and wasted no time in making a bang in the basketball scene by sigining ex-PEA coach, “Seng” Prasert Siripojanakul. At that time, PEA was still one of the major power houses of Thailand Basketball. Once Mono got Coach Seng on board, he wasted no time in convincing the team to coral some his favorite players from PEA. “Van” Pairach Sekteera, “Bas” Kannut Samerjai, “So” Sorot Sunthornsiri (who won the TBL MVP that first year), would be the main core of the initial Vampires squad and still will be in their main roster for the ABL. Another local player that played in that team that will have a role this year is “Shopper” Jitaphon Towaeroj, who was signed from the Nakhon Pathom Madgoats.
Mono got their first import for their first competition, Anthony “Biggie” McClain, and he has since been there go-to import since. They were able to secure 3rd place in the regular season standing to set up a series with the eventual champions, the Mad Goats. They pushed the Mad Goats to an elimination game in a 3 game series, but eventually lost.
They would stock up their squad further with “Singha” Chanachon Klahan, Brian Sherman, and “Sal” Salanyu Inmeung heading into the BTSL. The Vampires improved, but still not enough to shake off their third wheel label. After finishing 3rd in the BTSL Domestic Round, they would finish 3rd in the International Round as well.
Then came the Big Summer. Fresh off SEA Games competition, the Mono Vampires went on a shopping spree and signed “Arm” Nattakarn Meungboon, “JO” Ratdech Kruatiwa, and “Palm” Darongphan Apiromwilaichai from the Nakhon Pathom Madgoats. In the middle of the Thailand Basketball season, they also picked up “Yak” Chaiwat Kedum as well. All four can be considered to be the cream of the crop at their positions in the counrtry. They started the season as the team to beat and despite a small blip of a loss to Hitech early in the season, they won every game for the rest of the season to win the Thailand Basketball Championship.
ABL Season 6 Insight
After their TBL 2015 championship celebration, the Vampires had to part ways with their secondary import, “Dot” Cadarian Raines, after he signed with a contract to play in the Qatari League. They used their time to evaluate and try out a couple of players before landing a deal with Nigerian-Canadian, “Q” Quincy Okolie (who you can read about here). They didn’t make any other player movements aside what they had in the TBL and opted to not sign any ASEAN imports.
A bold statement by the Mono Vampires indeed, in a move to obviously focus on the development of their local talents by means of throwing them into the fire. Thankfully, almost all of their local rotation already have ABL experience (with the exception of Sherman, Sunthornsiri, and Towaeroj being ABL rookies) so the process should be much smoother than it would be otherwise.
Along with his two TBL imports, Coach Seng ran a solid 10-man rotation. Only Kruatiwa and Apiromwilaichai were averaging more than 20 minutes (and only slightly over). Each player can come in and contribute immediately. 5 of these players (Samerjai, Meungboon, Kruatiwa, Apiromwilaichai, and Klahan) were all part of the recent Thailand National Team SEA Games lineup that took Sinag Pilipinas down the wire. Mono Vampires will be fielding a very solid local roster.
Anthony McClain is Big
Well, of course. Why else would his nickname be “Biggie”? McClain should be entering the ABL as the biggest player (both in terms of height and weight). He was able to throw it around in the Thailand Basketball league to his (and the Vampires) advantage. Modern basketball is getting smaller and the ABL may very well be a different type of game than the TBL (which might slow McClain down), but he is undeniably very, very large. The Vampires should look to put that to good use.
No ASEAN/Heritage Import
As stated above, the Mono Vampires will not be using an ASEAN/Heritage Import. It is a bold admirable move and it will do wonders for the development of the local players. BUT it is going to be a really rough season. The wing positions can be manned by locals without much of a problem, but it is the lead guard position that will be challenging.
The three point guards on the Vampires are immensely talented with 2 of them being huge contributors on the SEA Games squad (Samerjai, Meungboon) and the other was the League MVP two seasons ago (Sunthornsiri). However, the ABL guard play is brutal. Think about last year with guys like Avery Scharer, Jerick Canada, Froilan Baguion, John Smith Jr., Rexander Leynes, and Al Vergara. This year’s crop might be even better with Jason Brickman, Kris Rosales, Stefan Nguyen, Willie Miller, and Freddie Goldstein.
The tempo and physicality that is played in the ABL is a notch higher than in the Thailand Basketball League and while I have faith that the Vampire guards will grow into it, there will be some growing pains.
The good news for the Vampires is that McClain is getting better at avoiding fouls, averaging only 2.2 fouls per 40 minutes in TBL 2015. Okolie, on the other hand, averaged about 2 fouls in about barely 20 minutes of playing time in his professional stints in Canada and Denmark. If Okolie runs into fould trouble, the Mono Vampire bench will be tested.
It’s going to be tough. They have the chemistry and they have the size, but the lack of those two ASEAN/Heritage imports will show its barbs early on in the season if not through it entirely. They will have more talent than that of the one-win Laskar Dreya South Sumatra from last season, but they still might be a step behind the rest of the older teams.
I’m predicting a 6-8 win freshmen season for the Mono Vampires.
Check out our complete list of previews: