Despite falling short in its two previous ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) campaigns, Mono Vampire Basketball Club is expected to be a championship contender in the upcoming season.
62-year-old Slovenian Andrej Urlep has been tasked with leading the Vampire in 2019-20 after the club lost to eventual champions, the BTN CLS Knights Indonesia, in the ABL semifinals last season.
In addition to retaining residential import Mike Singletary, the Thailand powerhouse has added former Macau Black Bears imports Ryan Watkins and Anthony Tucker to form its import trio. The roster is further bolstered by locals such as Tyler Lamb, Moses Morgan, and Chitchai Ananti, who are expected to bring experience and firepower to the squad as well.
Urlep, though, is not focused on any singular player, but rather, has stressed the importance of teamwork and unity among his players.
“I always say the team,” said the Slovenian head coach from the ABL’s press conference in Manila, Philippines.
With that being said, he does hold his imports accountable, and expects them to lead by example both on and off the court, aware of the positive energy the three Americans will bring to a team hungry to improve from its two previous finishes.
“They for sure have to bring us the qualities [like] good attitude and good teamwork,” continued Urlep.
In its most recent taste of competition, the Vampire was able to finish in third place at the Hualien International Invitational without Tucker, who went down with an injury in his first practice with the team.
During the tournament, Singletary and Lamb stepped up in the absence of Tucker, as the pair looked sharper than ever on the offensive end. The Vampire’s 65-61 group stage defeat of fellow ABL competitor, the Formosa Dreamers, showed just how strong the team could be once Tucker does return.
Thus far, the experienced Slovenian tactician has been satisfied with what he has seen from his players, and is ready to guide his squad to another successful run in the ABL’s tenth season.
“I think we are doing a good job. We have a month left and we will be ready by the beginning of the season. I expect us to play the best that we can, and be good enough to be at the top of the league.”
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