Frustration is hard to conceal. You might be able to cover it up from time to time with a big smile and fooling around with other people, but eventually you will let your guard down and the frustration will show.
As it has been repeated over and over and over and over again in these pages, the Mono Vampires have just entered their first ABL season and they are mainly using local players as their main force on the team. No one wasn’t expecting grand things from them out of the gates. This was suppose to be something like what the Philadelphia 76ers were doing.
But no matter how much you trust in the process, it just keeps eating you up if you keep on losing close game after close game.
Final Score: Singapore Slingers 72 – Mono Vampire 66
The Mono Vampires seemed well-rested. They had arrived the night before and it wasn’t an 18-hour long distance travel like the Davao away game against Pilipinas Aguilas.
But then again, it was only no more than 4 days that they had just played a nerve-wrecking rivalry match against Hitech Bangkok City. It is possible that fatigue played quite a role in this game, as the Slingers were well rested from having the luxury of playing at home and having an 8 day rest.
It was yet another game where the Mono Vampires started out the game slowly. In the first quarter of the Vampires’ first game, they were stuck at 7 points until they got a string of three pointers from “JO” Ratdech Kruatiwa. Against Hitech, they scored only 14 points in the opening quarter. Here against the Slingers at the end of the first quarter, they found themselves down 18-10. The Slingers went through the entire quarter without turning the ball over.
They also got out in a hurry in this game. Maybe they sensed the Vampires fatigue or maybe they were just doped up on adrenaline. Whatever the case, the Slingers pushed the ball up on almost any possession that they could. They caught the Vampires back pedaling and outnumbered in transition for quite too many possessions and I suspect that Coach Prasert Siripojanakul will not like that.
There were instances where the Vampires were caught defending 4 on 3, 3 on 2, and sometimes even 4 on 1. The Slingers finished the game with 16 fastbreak points. To give some credit to the Vampires, the Slingers were doing a really good job of pushing the fastbreak in this game.
But the Vampires being the Vampires by always have a comeback up their sleeves, took advantage of the Slingers playing Delvin Goh against Chanachon Klahan. Goh has the size advantage on Klahan, but with Klahan being a stretch 4, he was able to lure Goh away from the basket and take advantage with his speed. The Vampires also took advantage of Goh on defense as they pressed him early in the half-court set and got a 7 point mini-run by Klahan.
The Slingers were still able to keep their distance by taking advantage of the Vampires on the fastbreak from time to time. They would enter the locker room with a 6 point lead at the end of a low scoring half of 32-26.
During the tail end of the first half, there was something interesting going on at the Mono Vampires bench. Playing the Slingers is always going to be a physical game. Maybe the Mono Vampires weren’t prepared for that or maybe it was just the toll of playing three straight away games. Whatever it was, it was visible and audible that the Mono Vampires seemed frustrated with calls (or non calls) that didn’t go their way.
There were some instances that the refs might have blown, like a couple of possessions given the wrong way or a missed/excessive foul called here and there, but there weren’t any calls that I felt were “Game Changing” and both teams were affected by those calls. One instance that seemed to have really enraged the Vampires was the late second quarter blocking foul on Chanachon Klahan.
The initial reaction was that this was an Offensive Charge. Fairly enough, it was almost an offensive charge had Klahan not made the last second move to initiate the contact. Klahan stood up surprised. The bench erupted. Even gentle Coach Prasert let out a bit of a tantrum at the refs. Team Manager Apichoke Saekow had to have a discussion with the refs at halftime. All of which are appropriate reactions, if you look at it from each persons respective perspectives. But I felt that they let it get into their heads a bit and it drew out frustration.
After two close away game losses, it was understandable that the Vampires were frustrated. But in this game, I feel like there were moments where they let that frustration get into their heads and they lost focus on their game.
The third quarter started with the Slingers slowly breaking away before Mono Vampires made a run to bring the game to within 2 points at 44-42.
That’s when things started to crumble down. The Mono Vampires would commit 4 turnovers in 4 straight possessions and the Slingers would pull of a 10-2 run to end the 3rd quarter with a 54-44 point lead.
The Vampires would have one more run left in them, led by none other than the three point marksmanship of Ratdech Kruatiwa. His two absurd three pointers would lead the Vampires back to within 4 points at 63-59.
However, in a Slingers team filled with veterans, it would be the 19-year-old rookie, Leon Kwek, that made two huge jump shots along with icing 3 free throws to give the Slingers the lead for good.
Another tough loss for the Mono Vampires to pile up on the frustration. I know the Vampires are people of high character but this has got to be a tough and frustrating time for them.
For what it’s worth, the Vampires are still playing really good basketball if you take away the factors where their fatigue kicks in. Their ball movement is good. The players play well within their roles. But as seen in this game and the game against Hitech, they lack a “wildcard” like Freddie Goldstein or Kris Rosales; guys who can come in and change the flow of the game immediately.
The Slingers keep on impressing game after game after a slow start against Hitech Bangkok City by following it up with two impressive wins. That Saigon Heat win now looks a lot more impressive now that the Heat took the KL Dragons into overtime. To think that this team is still without Ng Han Bin and Wu Qing De, both of whom should provide good size and experience to the team once they return from their injuries. The Slingers are appearing as a darkhorse once again.
What I liked and didn’t like
I don’t know if going “2-for-1” at the end of quarters is a thing in basketball in the ASEAN region, but I feel like it’s not very common.
Going “2-for-1” is where you have possession of the ball with less than 48 but more than 24 seconds left in the period and you take a shot before the clock goes below 24 seconds. This means that the opposing team will have to take a shot before the end of regulation (or else they will face a shot clock violation) and your team will get one more final possession. This means that you will get 2 possessions while the other team gets 1, hence the namesake.
I don’t know if Wong Wei Long was really going for the 2-for-1 or if he really wanted to shoot the ball, but it turned out well for the Slingers as they scored on their last possession.
- Nattakarn Meungboon Pick & Roll Pocket Pass
Nattakarn Meungboon was really good on the pick and roll early on. Like REALLY good.
However, it seemed like he didn’t pose as a big enough threat off the dribble or as a shooting option that the Slingers decided to defend the roller more heavily so that sort of lost it’s effectiveness. But while it worked, it was a thing of beauty to watch Meungboon perfectly place that pass.
- My Growing Affection for Kris Rosales
I wasn’t impressed with what I saw from Kris Rosales in his first game. He seemed all over the place and nowhere on the court at the same time. Then he looked a whole lot better in the game against the Heat.
Then he just blew my mind against the Mono Vampires. He’s not flashy like Freddie Goldstein. He’s not an athletic freak like Matthew Wright. He’s not even a pure passer like Jason Brickman. Rosales oozes the feel of an old school player, whether it is in the way he moves, the way he dribbles, and his demeanor off the court.
I got the chance to join in on the ABL interviewing Rosales after the game and it was nice to get to know more about this humble kid.
- I Told You So
After laying a goose egg in his first game, Leon Kwek delivers two straight double digit scoring performances. Kwek is developing at the pace I develop my NBA2K MyPlayer. I start out with an average all-around Small Forward and make him take a lot of midrange jumpshots. You eventually start making those shots and the rest just falls into piece.
I mentioned in the Singapore Slingers season preview that “He [Leon Kwek] should run into some rookie walls early on, but like Liew and Low, he should be able to make a name for himself before the season ends.“
It’s only been three games, but it seems like he’s made a name for himself already.
The Singapore Slingers will be taking on the KL Dragons on the 13th of November at OCBC Arena in the first of their own longtime border rivalry in a back-to-back home-and-home series called “The Straits Cup”. Should be even more interesting than the Mono-Hitech rivalry as this pretty much dates back to Season 1 of the ABL.
The Mono Vampires will be taking on the Saigon Heat in another away game at CIS Arena on the 14th of November. Both teams will be looking finally get their first win. Sadly, only one team will be able to break their losing streak.