The two newcoming teams duel it out for what has been a rough season. Who will keep their playoff hopes alive?
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Regardless of what I posted for the pregame preview for the Mono Vampires vs. KL Dragons concerning it could be the Vampires playoff hopes “make-or-break” game, it turns out that the situation concerning the ending of their game against Hitech turns them back to a 2-13 record, which ultimately means that the Vampires are still in playoff contention. For now.
The Pilipinas MX3 Kings are in the same hotseat. With their 2-13 record, the Kings need to win this game against the Mono Vampires to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
And it was these two teams that made last minute changes at the 31 January deadline.
The Mono Vampires just can’t get a break with their World Import signings:
Quincy Okolie: 8.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 37.9 FG%
Paul Butorac: 9.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 27.5 FG%
Mike Fey: 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 34.0 FG%
Aside from the slightest increase in points per game, it seems like the Vampires had been getting worse at signing imports.
Whatever the case, neither of those three were the answer to what is a really talented Vampire team but they get their last attempt here.
The Vampires swiftly made a switch from Mike Fey, to a smaller and more athletic Cleveland Melvin. You can read more about Melvin here. Melvin has the pedigree of being a consistent double digit scorer in a power 6 NCAA conference, which is something none of the imports in the ABL can say. That should seem like something to look forward to spectate.
However, the big question is if scoring, or in this case, perimeter scoring is the answer that the Vampires are looking for. Vampires have shown game in game out (especially the recent performances of Ananti and Samerjai) that they have scorers from outside. It’s scoring near the basket that they have lacked.
But then again, maybe Mono is trying to fit Melvin into a sort of Xavier Alexander type of role, when he can play the small ball 4 spot. That would seem fun.
In the other corner, the Pilipinas MX3 Kings were quite busy in the waning moments. They reportedly released high volume shooter AZ Reid and Nakiea Miller and replaced them with Ola Adeogun and – wait for it – Will Creekmore.
Update: Word is that Adeogun will not be available as he has issue regarding his Nigerian Passport. It seems that Miller might be on his way back to play or either Mike Fey will sign with the Kings, depending on who you believe.
Creekmore with be returning to the ABL from a 2 week break after playing with the Saigon Heat (more details here). It will be interesting to see how the situation folds out. AZ Reid was using up 36% of the Pilipinas MX3 Kings possessions and to switch him to Creekmore (who uses only 18.8%) will be a drastic chance. Who knows? Maybe the locals will finally get a chance to get their offence run more throughout everyone.
This will be a battle to the death of these two new ABL teams, both of whom had just recently had quite a makeover.
X-Factor: Eric Salamat
Of the remaining
survivors players on the squad, Eric Salamat might have the most potential to breakout. And if the rumors are true about him going through a cold war with AZ Reid, Reid’s release might spark a fire in him.
I love Will Creekmore, his hustle, his goofiness, and his relentless effort at yelling at the refs but his stint with the Kings should be rocky. Or at least rockier than Cleveland Melvin’s adjustment to his new team. The Vampires have legit scorers in place and at the very least…they still have Anthony McClain.
I say the Vampires get their third win to keep their playoff hopes alive by 7 points.
Feature Picture from Mono Vampire Basketball Club
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