I know this has been repeated over and over and over and over again for this Mono Vampires team…but this really is a must-win game.
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The Mono Vampires will be playing the MX3 Pilipinas Kings for the 3rd time already this season which makes them the only two teams who have played each other more than twice. They might be an interesting pair, but if we take a look at their storyline, we might be seeing a budding rivalry here.
The Kings took the first game that they played and while the Vampires played admirably, the Kings came away with a one-point win (back when they were Pilipinas Aguilas). In the second game, the Vampires had vengeance and hunger for the first win and they sprinted out to a big lead before letting the Kings get close. They would eventually win 85-81, but it didn’t come easy.
The two were involved in each other ABL debuts, the Vampires were the Kings first victims, and the Kings were the Vampires first victims. I couldn’t think of a better way to start a rivalry. And now, the Kings will be first opposing team to be playing in Mono Vampires home court after a grueling 8 straight road game trip.
The Vampires are going to be pretty desperate for a victory as they will be trying to win back the trust of their fans for the first time. It is understandable to start a season 1-7 if you are a rookie team who have only played as the away team, but once you have the chance to play on your home ground, you better make it count. Compounding on that hunger will the beating that they took at the claws of the KL Dragons. That 38 points loss is the worst a team has suffered this season and everyone will be fired to bounce back from that game.
We will be seeing more of Paul Butorac who stepped in as a replacement World import for Quincy Okolie (who was placed on the injured list and will be missing for at least 3 games). With Butorac in the game, the Vampires offense did look more fluid, but they suffered heavily on defense without the shotblocking presence of Okolie. He had 11 points and 8 rebounds. We’ll get another look at Butorac in this game to gauge whether his defensive flaws can outweight Okolie’s offensive shortcomings.
Another fun thing to look out for is the return of Froilan Baguion to the ABL!
It wasn’t that much of a surprise seeing the connection that Froilan and Coach Prasert had since the SportsRev Thailand Slammers era. It is a good sign that the Mono Vampires management has toned down their boldness on not using ASEAN Imports (now it’s interesting how they will utilize their remaining ASEAN Import slot, should they decide to). Froilan will only make this team better with his experience in the ABL (5 years, 2 champs, never missed the playoffs), but it will be interesting to see how Coach Prasert juggles the point guard log jam where they now have 4 servicable point guards in Baguion, Kannut Samerjai, Nattakarm Meungboon, and Sorot Sunthornsiri.
But it’s a problem anyone will take.
The Mono Vampires aren’t the only team that has been making some changes, as the Pilipinas Kings have been doing some roster shuffling as well. Gone is World Import Charles Mammie along with other notable locals like Sunday Salvacion and Jondan Salvador, and replacing them will be Jason Deutchmann (Local) and Shaun Pruitt (World Import). Pruitt was activated, but didn’t make it to the game against the Singapore Slingers last week because of complications which didn’t allow him to board the flight. That doesn’t really seem like a good sign, but the Kings will need him to be able to attend and play in this game. His 6’10” frame is the only thing that has a chance of stopping 7’1″ Anthony McClain who has been averaging 22.5 points and 16.0 rebounds against the Kings.
Deutchmann didn’t have a perfect debut, going for only 4 points on 1-7 shooting and 6 rebounds, but the Kings have been playing some tune-up games this past week and that might help with the team chemistry process a lot more.
PS. For bonus excitement points, this game will be played at Chulalongkorn University which happens to be the same court that the Bangkok Cobra’s once used…and is also the homecourt of my alumnus! I am so pumped to finally see that court in action again.
X-Factor: Froilan Baguion
Shaun Pruitt is probably a bigger factor as the Kings don’t stand a chance without him, but his situation seems to shady to put any consideration into.
But Froilan Baguion is pretty much a sure thing to play in this game. I’ve been repeating over and over again about the problems that the Mono Vampires have had handling the ball (dead last with 18.3 TO/G) and Froilan would seem like the guy to help in that area…but by the numbers, it doesn’t seem that way.
Froilan had a turnover rate of 27.1% last year with the Saigon Heat (7th highest among player who played more than 10 games) which is not exactly pretty and that is before you factor that his Usage Rate is only 13.9%.
Froilan is certainly not sloppy with the ball, but as the numbers show, it might have something to do with the system he is inserted into as well. If Froilan can turn the turnover situation around, it should be a pretty easy game for the Vampires.
I love the idea of Froilan Baguion roaming wild in Coach Prasert’s free flowing offense, especially with (what I’ve seen of) Paul Butorac also connecting the inside outside play. Anthony McClain should find it easier to get the ball inside and dominate like he is supposed to. Once McClain draws in the defense, Ratdech Kruatiwa will have all the space in the world on the perimeter to fire away without taking a dribble.
That’s pretty much ideal but if that’s how the game goes, I say the Mono Vampires get a 7 point win.
Highlights from Game One: MX3 Pilipinas Kings vs Mono Vampires
Highlights from Game Two: MX3 Pilipinas Kings vs Mono Vampires
Highlights from ASEAN Basketball League
Feature Picture from Mono Vampire Basketball Club