The first time these two played at MABA Stadium, the Dragons were expected to burn the Vampires down convincingly. It turned out the Dragons would need to exert more effort than expected against the Thai side. We could barely wait for the rematch.
Turns out the rematch of the Dragons and Vampires would be like “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in where the one of the most anticipated sequals (or prequals, whatever makes you happy) in recent history turned out to be a total dud.
GAME DETAILS (6/12/15)
Final Score: KL Dragons 110 – Mono Vampires 72
That was a pretty brutal showing from the KL Dragons on their homecourt. They were obviously out to prove a point after managing only a slight win over the Vampires and following that up with an away loss to the Saigon Heat.
They came out hungry and ready so they were fed. They pounced on the fastbreak at every opportunity they had and broke the century mark with ease.
What I liked and didn’t like
- New Kid On The Block
As always with any article about the Mono Vampires, let’s start with the bright side. Quincy Okolie was placed on the injured list for this game and had been temporarily replaced by Paul Butorac.
Butorac is a 6’10” power forward with some shooting range. He’s played in Japan for the past 7 years after a collegiate career at Eastern Washington. He finished his ABL debut with 11 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 5-10 from the field. Not bad numbers, but nothing spectacular either.
With that said, the Mono Vampires did look a bit more fluid on offense that they did with Quincy Okolie (who always seemed to look lost on the floor). But Butorac didn’t pose as much of a defense threat as Okolie which led to the Dragons perimeter players to seem more comfortable at attacking the basket.
Now all the Mono Vampires need is to come up with the technology to fuse Okolie’s defensive prowess and Paul Butorac’s offensive skills together. I’ll just file this under project “Pauly Okorac 1.0”.
- Dancing Dragons
One of the effects of Okolie being out was that the Vampires now lacked an intense defender who loved to hustle and chase the opposing team down for blocks. Not a slight to Butorac, but Okolie’s athleticism and hustle tuned him into a Kangaroo on steriods when it came to transition defense. It didn’t always end well (goaltending, fouls) but it got the Dragons looking over their shoulders before taking the layup on the break.
In this game, the Dragons destroyed the Vampires on the break. You know you have a problem on transition defense when the opposing team has Reggie Johnson leading the fastbreak.
Credit here goes both to the Dragons aggressiveness to attack the open court and to the Mono Vampire’s slacking in getting down the floor.
- Busted Rims
Speaking of aggressiveness, Reggie Johnson, and fastbreaks, this happened in the game:
This was one of those moments where you could kind of foresee what was going to happen a couple of seconds before it actually happened, but once it actually happened, you were still blown away by it. I was pretty much anticipating with the thought of Reggie Johnson breaking the rim as he caught the ball and started to gather. But when you saw him dragging his weight on the poor orange cylinder and snap it down, you couldn’t help to feel a surge of disbelief.
There were comments swirling around in social media about how this was just a case of an overweight guy (Reggie is just a big dude guys, chill on the fat jokes) hanging onto an old rim. These are probably the same sort of people that goes back and forth on a highlight dunk to point out that there was a travelling violation. These are also the same people who hate having fun.
Learn to enjoy life every now and then guys. Come on.
Here are some of the following consequences of “The Dunk” that needs to be pointed out:
The score was 98-55 after the dunk with a full 8:09 minutes left in the 4th quarter. There was quite a commotion on the court as the MABA stadium staff took quite a while to get it fixed up. According to the broadcasting team, the solution was that if they weren’t able to repair the rim or find a back up, the game would have to be cancelled and continued on another date. That would be completely weird to arrange another date for the Mono Vampires to travel to MABA Stadium to continue 8 more minutes of a blow out game. Thankfully, it didn’t get to that point but I am interested as to how it would have boiled down had it gone to that point.
Of course, once they got the rim fixed, it was only natural for me to expect the Dragons to just screw everyone and break the rim again on their next offensive possession. Surely enough, the Dragons next offensive possession was Matthew Wright streaking ahead on the fastbreak.
Wright seemed to think about dunking it for a split second before laying it in, much to my disappointment.
AND HOW COULD WE FORGET THAT MOMENT WHERE REGGIE JOHNSON LEFT HIS OWN COACH, ARIEL VANGUARDIA, HANGING AFTER BREAKING THE RIM.
Reggie Johnson has got NO chill.
- Autman is a local, ya’ll
For the ultimate Mono Vampire fans, you should pretty much be acquainted with Autman Al-Mabruk. For those who aren’t as familiar with Thailand Basketball, you might have been wondering why the Mono Vampires were able to field 3 World Imports or whether Autman was a mysterious ASEAN import.
Here’s the truth though: Autman Al-Mabruk is a true Thai local player. He’s still pretty young (23) and he’s pretty slim, but this game against the Dragons was his ABL debut and he did a pretty good job scoring 12 points of 6-8 shooting.
Yes, I know that this was a blowout game and the Dragons defense were probably letting it loose a bit. But you still have to give some recognition to the ABL rookie.
- Kayden Johnson
The NBA has Steph Curry and Riley Curry.
The ABL has Reggie Johnson and Kayden Johnson.
Eat your hearts out.
- Huge Fan
There was this dude who drove all the way from Trang Province (Thailand) to Kuala Lumpur to watch the Mono Vampires play. I met with him after the game and found out that he was a huge fan of Pairach Sekteera. It was sort of depressing that he had to have come for this particular game, but props nonetheless for making the drive down.
By The Numbers
- 110, 60.5%, 38
Those three numbers just show how dominant the Dragons were in this game. 110 points is the most scored in an ABL game in the past two seasons. It shouldn’t really be much of a surprise that it’s the Dragons to break the 110 mark as they do hold the top 5 highest scoring performances in the past two years (110 on Vampires, 108 on Saigon Heat, 107 on MX3 Pilipinas Kings, 107 on Hitech Bangkok City, and 106 on Laskar Dreya).
60.5% is the field goal shooting of this game which was the second highest in the past two ABL seasons.
38 is the point differencial which is tied for second highest in the past two ABL seasons as well.
Just your normal KL Dragons type of stuff.
The Mono Vampires averaged 6.9 made three point shots per game before this one. They ended up making none.
They were also averaging 24 three point attempts before that game as well. They only attempted 17.
Heads up job by the Dragons on their defensive game plan here.
The loss to Hitech for the Mono Vampires before this game seemed to have been the end of the honeymoon stage for the Mono Vampires in the ABL. It had been their first double digit loss of the year and to follow it up with this beat down must have been quite devastating. It was understanding that they were playing with a new major piece in their lineup (Paul Butorac) but situation hasn’t seemed any better since. They would pick up a win in their next game against the MX3 Kings in their first home game, but it all seemed to be going downhill from there. Hopefully, they can start the next year on a higher note.
The Dragons got a huge bounce back win here in grand fashion and it souped them up for another good victory at home against the other Thai Team, Hitech Bangkok City. They couldn’t end the year with a win when they lost to the Singapore Slingers at home, but they’ve made it pretty clear that they are solid contenders for the title this year.
The Dragons will open 2016 with a game against the Saigon Heat on January 9th. These two have always clashed in one of the most classic match ups in the ABL and it should be as entertaining when the Saigon Heat finally visit MABA stadium. The teams split games at CIS Arena in the first two matchups, but it should be noted that the Heat haven’t won at MABA in their last 3 tries.
The Mono Vampires won’t have an easy task on their hands to start off 2016 when they go visit the Singapore Slingers at OCBC Arena. Both teams were mainly on the road during the first half of the season and it’s surprising how different paths both teams ended on. It hasn’t been easy to beat the Slingers, and it certainly won’t be any easier to beat them at home. The Vampires gave them quite a scare the last time they visited, but the home team still handed the Vampires the loss. Since then the two squads have trended in different directions, with the Slingers getting huge wins over the Dragons and Hitech in away games while the Vampires have only picked up wins against the MX3 Pilipinas Kings. They will play in the ABL 2016 opener on January 3rd.
Feature Picture Credit: Mono Vampire Basketball Club