Shaking Things Up: Moves in the ABL

I hinted around at some ABL player in movement in my recent ABL Round Up and surely enough, some of those moves were confirmed on the ASEAN Basketball League twitter account.

Let’s slowly react to this, one tweet at a time:

The Rolando Gardner signing wasn’t much of a surprise, as Gardner has not made an attempt to keep that a secret. It’s hard for me to evaluate Gardner himself or how he fits with the team, so it’s much better if we wait for his first game on the 3rd of February to hand out a better judgement.

On paper though, it does seem like an awkward fit. Gardner’s not a tall guard like Rosales nor does he seem like a calm lead guard like Al Vergara, the two Heritage Imports that the Slingers used during these past two seasons. I’ll go out on a limb and say that he seems like he has a similar skill set to Wong Wei Long.

Photo Credit: Sterling College Warriors

Of course, this is all speculation based on profile, short highlights, and stats, so it’s just better to wait for his debut to properly consider this again.

The Gardner-Slinger’s tweet also confirms that Garnder was “replacing” Alli Austria.

No surprises here as well, I guess. Austria never had the impact that the Slingers had hoped for and that Kris Rosales had vouched for. Austria played in only 8.5 minutes per game this season and scored only 8 points the entire 10 games.

A rare picture.
A rare picture.

The interesting part about this “replacement” though, is that it wasn’t necessary for the Slingers to release Austria since they already had another vacant Heritage Import quota anyways. Releasing Austria does make it easier for him to find another job elsewhere, but it also does still mean that the Slingers still have one Heritage Import slot wide open at their disposal. Hold on to that thought for a moment…

While the Gardner-Slingers tweet was kind of “Oh really? Nice.”, the Munzon-Morgan-Heat tweet was kind of “HOLYSHITWHATTHEFUCKJUSTHAPPENED”.

I don’t even know where I should start… but let’s start with the “new” guy.

Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm

Moses Morgan returns to the Heat, where he was a major part in their playoff run last season.

It’s been a whirlwind 6 months for Morgan. He was arguably the best player in the Thailand Basketball League on the Madgoats. Then it seemed that he was heading to the Mono Vampires for the TBSL, even playing for them in a tune-up game against the Saigon Heat.

Morgan didn't gain a ton of weight, he's the guy on the left.
Morgan didn’t gain a ton of weight, he’s the guy on the left.

He was then named to the Thailand National Team for the first time in the Super Kung Sheung Invitational Tournament in Hong Kong, but fell off the radar ever since.

Photo Credit: Basketball Thailand
Photo Credit: Basketball Thailand

The TBSL started and went without a sign of Morgan, reportedly due to contract complications with the Madgoats, Mono, and Morgan himself.

Then suddenly out of the blue, Morgan returns to the ABL scene to rejoin the core of David Arnold, Lenny Daniel, and Stefan Nguyen in an attempt to turn around the season for the Heat.

It seems like a nice comeback story… if that was all there was to the tale.

Since Moses Morgan is Thai-American, he qualifies as a Heritage Import in the ABL. That means that for Morgan to rejoin the Heat (who had already filled both Heritage Import quotas), either Joshua Munzon or Arnold would have to go. Of course, David Arnold wasn’t going to go anywhere… so as the tweet says, Joshua Munzon was replaced by Moses Morgan.

Let’s play the blind player comparison game:

Player A: 36.5 MPG, 15.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.6 TO, 34.7 FG%, 30.8 3P%, 62.1 FT%
Player B: 37.9 MPG, 18.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 3.1 TO, 37.9 FG%, 31.6 3P%, 66.7 FT%

One of those players is Moses Morgan, the other is Joshua Munzon.

The rebounding numbers kind of give it away that Player A is Morgan, who has a larger build and a wider frame. However, aside from all of that there’s not much to gain or lose by switching the two. On the defensive end, Morgan is a bit bigger so he can help Daniel and Chris Charles guard some 4s. However, Munzon has the advantage of being a master at picking off passes and a sturdy face-up defender. His 4.1 steals per game is on pace to shatter the all-time single season record.

The main point of all this: How much does this actually help the Heat?

I’m as big of a Morgan fan as any guy and I believe he will be even better in sophomore season. However, it’s still pretty baffling why the Heat even considered to replace Munzon, who had firmly solidified his spot as the Heat’s second best player so far this season and a guy who I personally consider as the second best heritage import right now.

The Heat have been like a sinking ship so far this season. You can convince me to believe that replacing Munzon with Morgan is an upgrade, but upgrading a ship’s cannon isn’t going to stop the ship from sinking unless you find the hole and patch it up.

The Gardner-Slingers move is still up for judgement, but I doubt that it will be a move that shakes up things dramatically for the league leaders. Maybe just patching up some minor holes.

The Morgan-Heat move still is a head scratcher and while it might there could be some improvements, I don’t see it drastically changing their fortunes.

However, the confirmation of Hsin Kai Wang to the Kaohsiung Truth could prove to be the one that impacts the league the most. Wang is added to the Truth as a local player, meaning that they didn’t have to give up any import quota for his services.

Photo Credit: 王聚寶
Photo Credit: 王聚寶

The Truth have had trouble handling the ball (“leads” league with 15.9 turnovers) despite the signing of Achie Iñigo and Jay Wey who both have skill sets that are valuable to the team. Wey has seemed to established himself as a go-to defender. Iñigo has been solid at the lead guard, but people still forget that this is his first professional stint at arguably the most difficult position to play. Getting professional veteran Hsin Kai Wang to help in this area seems like a perfect move.

I’m not really sure of how Hsin Kai Wang plays, but I believe his pedigree of playing in the CBA and being an SBL Champion.

Even if Hsin Kai Wang doesn’t work out as well as planned for the Truth, they didn’t have to give up a lot to get him to play.

Teams seem to be getting quite busy heading into the halfway point of the ABL season.

What do you think of the moves that were made?


One thought on “Shaking Things Up: Moves in the ABL

  1. If I were to choose between the 2-players-in-question in the recent Saigon Heat shake-up, I’d go for the one who’s last name starts with ‘M’ and ends with ‘N’. Well it’s going to be either “M”orga”n” or “M”unzo”n”. They’re both excellent ballers and Saigon Heat will have all the advantages they can get from any of these two players. It’s really a toss-up between two.

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