I mentioned in Mono Vampire’s last game recap about them going through something similar to the Philadephia 76ers approach. They have a process in mind in their team building, but it was up to them if they could present it out to their fans so that everyone would #TrustTheProcess.
This game against the Saigon Heat was a must win for both teams. At some point, no matter how loyal your fans are (and the Heat’s and the Vampire fans are some of the best out there) losing will always have a negative effect on the team. The Mono Vampires got to experience a little bit of that in this game.
Final Score: Saigon Heat 78 – Mono Vampires 73
In the past games, I had mentioned that the Mono Vampires had started off each game slowly. Points were hard to come by and their offensive flow was inconsistent.
Not in this game.
The Vampires started off quickly. Quincy Okolie, who had been off to a slow start to the season, came out guns ablazing. He would finish the first quarter with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 monster signature blocks.
They commanded a strong 7 point 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Saigon Heat made a run and made it a three point game, but the Mono Vampires broke away once again on a 14-4 run, strongly led by Pairach Sekteera’s three point shot and a tough And-1 layup.
Lenny Daniel would put on a dunking exhibition in the second quarter, but it still didn’t move the Heat anywhere forward and they fell to a 10 point deficit at 32-42 at the end of the half.
But then the Heat came to life. Moses Morgan had played in the Thailand Basketball League prior to his signing with the Saigon Heat and was never able to beat the Mono Vampires or Hitech when he played for PEA. Maybe that fueled some fire in him because he came out in the second half ready to light some flames.
Moses Morgan dropped 4 assists in the 2nd quarter and helped his team to steam a 14-0 run after Mono Vampires opened the second half with 2 free throws. The run would go on for 7 minutes and 18 seconds where the Mono Vampires were unable to score any points. Nattakarn Meungboon was able to pump some life back into the Vampires as he scored 7 of the mere 9 points they scored in this quarter, but the damage was done and the Vampires were left shaken headed into the final interval.
More than that, Anthony McClain would pick up his 4th foul late in the third quarter and that would be the final straw in which broke down the Vampires in this game.
After starting the final quarter up by three points, the Heat would continue taking advantage of the Mono Vampires defense (or lack thereof) which would lead to an 11 point lead with less than 5 minutes to play.
Of course, the Vampires are the Vampires and they have made quite a reputation of never being completely out of the game no matter how “out of the game” they look. Sorot Sunthornsiri made a three-pointer and a coast-to-coast lay up which closed the gap to only 2 points for the Vampires.
Even after some ill-advised three point shots from the Vampires that turned the lead back to 6 points, the Vampires still had some magic left in them to pull off a 4-point play to make it a two point game.
The Vampires would have yet another huge chance after Sorot Sunthornsiri went to the foul line down 3 points. He would make the first one, but missed the second attempt. To the Saigon Heat’s horror Anthony McClain got the offensive rebound which set him up for the potential game tying basket…
And he missed the baby hook shot.
The Heat would get the ball and after David Arnold went to the foul line four times, the Heat would seal the deal.
Looking back, the fact that the Vampires were able to stay this close and actually have the 10 point lead despite getting only 10 points off of 2-23 shooting from their leading local scorers, Kruatiwa and Apiromwilaichai, was pretty amazing. Maybe they could have gotten the ball to Anthony McClain more or McClain himself could have been more agressive as well, because him taking only 9 shots isn’t going to be enough for this Vampires team. In the end however, it was the Vampires defensive efforts that failed them in this game. Too many times did they let the Heat have their way offense which in part was because of McClain’s foul trouble. There were a few other things that the Vampires might look to improve, but their defense is should be on the top of their list.
The Heat finally got their first win…but they shouldn’t be completely content with this win. They shot only 39% from the field and 44% from the free throw line. They also lucked out on McClain being in foul trouble, which negated the size advantage that the Vampires had in that position. It was a win and a good grind out at that, but the Heat have a lot to work on, especially when they visit Hitech Bangkok City with two huge guys in the middle in their next game.
What I liked and didn’t like
- Rusty Bucket
I wrote about the “Rusty Bucket” section during last year’s ABL season when Hitech Bangkok City visited Saigon. After reading the feedback around the internet about the Rusty Bucket being “classless” and “rude”. As a major fan of the Rusty Bucket section, I have to come out to their protection.
As the visiting team, it is easy to get annoyed by these guys. They have the most vivid imaginations of what to heckle and how to present it. But is anything with what they do “wrong”?
I still hold my ground and say no. They are one of the most colorful parts of the ABL and if I must be honest, they are one of the best entertainment of the league outside of the basketball part itself. Heckling and trash-talking is a huge part of what makes basketball fun, because the players and the fans are so nearby each other. It is one of the few moments where you can see that the players and fans are actually interacting with one another.
You can hate the Rusty Bucket, and I probably think they really don’t care, but I love their dedication to what they do.
- The Social Media Backlash
I was following this game via Youtube live stream so I had the fortune of reading the forever harsh opinions of the Keyboard Warriors on the Live Comments section.
I couldn’t capture these comments in time and Youtube deletes them after the livestream ends, but the comments varied from:
“These guys should go back to focusing on practicing on their layups” to
“They should change their coach” to
“Why the $%^)& is he shooting again?”
Most of these comments were targeted towards the Mono Vampires. I have never watched a Vampires game live stream before so I don’t know if these comments have become common, but this time the backlash seemed to have leaked on to the Mono Vampires facebook page as well.
The team themselves are professionals and they will probably take this tiny incident with a grain of salt, but for me, I would like to see that the fans showed some more “class” towards teams and their players. Especially, if you are going to wave the “I am a fan, I have a right to criticize” flag around.
It is one thing to make a logical and reasonable argument as to what one team might have done wrong and what they can do to improve, but it is a different issue to just thrash out at something without offering a valid reason and solution.
One of the more popular opinions was that the Mono Vampires should change their coach because they were now 0-4. That could be a solution, but it is not one that I see could help the team neither in the long or the short run. Coach Prasert Siripojanakul is a player’s coach and he has complete trust of the management and players of the Mono Vampires organization. If you change him out, you better have a solid replacement that can substitute that amount of trust and closeness to the player’s or else you might be looking at a morale issue within the team. The way I see it, changing coaches midway through the season, especially in one that is as short as the ABL should be the last resort for a team. It is almost impossible for a coach to just come in on the fly and expect things to be better instantly.
I’m not saying that Coach Prasert has been doing a marvelous job at his position. He has had his faults here and there. No one is perfect. But replacing him this early in the season should be out of the question.
The Shooter Paradox
Here’s the thing about “JO” Ratdech Kruatiwa. He’s a straight up shooter. He’s never met a shot he doesn’t like. It’s his role on this team. Everyone on the team acknowledges this and accepts it.
But that’s the frustrating thing about watching Kruatiwa play, especially from someone who adores scoring efficiency as myself. He’ll have those days where he makes big shots and seems to be able to make a three under any circumstance, like in the past 3 games. Kruatiwa took a total of 44 three pointers in his first three games (which is more than half of what most teams shot) and he had hit a decent clip of those shots, good for a solid 31.9%. But then he’ll have games like this one against the Saigon Heat, where he just can’t make anything.
From one point of view, you could say that it’s not his day, which is totally true. It just wasn’t his day, and judging from his past games, he usually makes at least 1 or 2 of the shots he took.
But from another perspective, the degree of difficulty of the shots he took were insanely high.
There was a curling stepback fadeaway three point shot.
Then there was a fastbreak pull up three after the steal where he could have went to the basket and draw a foul.
Then there was a sidestep twisting three point shot with a defender right in his grill.
Then there was a pick and roll where he had the lane to penetrate but opted to sidestep for the three instead.
Late in the game, he got a nice outlet pass on the break for a catch and shoot three which missed. Kruatiwa would get a steal and immediately twist for a long range three.
In one of the last and most crucial possessions for Mono Vampires, he took took another twisting fadeaway three point shot with 30 seconds left on the clock down by 4 points.
He would make none of those shots. Here is where the dilemma as a fan kicks in. You could put blame on him for attempting such difficult shots (where in some late game situations they could have opted for a more effective solution) but you also have to keep in mind that everyone knew that this was his role.
One of my concerns was that there seems to be no situation in which Kruatiwa gets to attempt a clean catch and shoot three pointer. Whether that is by design of the offensive system or because of the defensive effort, the thing is that the end product is the team’s “Shooter” taking a difficult shot and receiving a large part of the backlash.
And that’s the thing about watching Ratdech Kruatiwa play. He’ll have games where he’ll blow your mind because of his excellence and some games where he’ll blow your mind because of his shot selection.
Whether this is suitable as the lead scoring wing option for the Vampires will have to be determined as the season develop.
The Mono Vampires continue their search for that first ABL win against the KL Dragons at MABA Stadium on the 22nd of November. Last year’s rookie, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra, took 18 games before they could notch their first win, and while I don’t think it will take the Vampires that long, a match up against the fiery Dragons seems a bit too difficult to break the egg.
The Saigon Heat will be facing their second Thai team in a row in their first away game, as they face the Hitech Bangkok City team on the 19th at Hitech Gymnasium. Hitech are on a roll and they are starting to find the right balance between using their imports and their locals and should be a tough opponent for the Heat. It might take an A-game from their locals, Han Minh Trieu and Tuan Trung Ngo, to make it interesting.