Mono Vampire Basketball Club advanced to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals after two hard-fought victories over the top-seeded Chong Son Kung Fu in the semifinals.
The fourth-seeded Vampire raced to 15-straight points to open the game while holding Kung Fu scoreless within the first four minutes. Jason Brickman and Samuel Deguara finished the opening quarter with eight points each for the home team.
Chong Son was able to trim the lead to single-digits before intermission, closing the first half trailing by nine points at 44-35. World import Justin Howard and local forward Luo Yongxuan combined for 20 of Kung Fu’s total points after two periods.
Meanwhile, Vampire floor general Jason Brickman already had 16 points and five assists by halftime, helping steady the ship for the Thai club whenever Chong Son threatened to close the gap.
With Howard and Filipino-American Mikh McKinney leading the charge, Kung Fu raced to 16-straight points within the first four minutes coming out of the half and finally took the lead. They outscored Mono 25-9, taking a 60-53 lead to end the third quarter.
Mono Vampire came back to regain the advantage in a nip-and-tuck fourth quarter, and with Justin Howard fouling out late in the game, Samuel Deguara was able to find a second wind for the stretch run.
After Mikh McKinney hit a clutch three to tie the game at 80-all with only two seconds remaining on the clock, the Vampire big man hit the biggest basket of the game with an and-one lay-up at the buzzer.
Jason Brickman was named player of the game after he scored 23 points, dished out nine assists, and added six rebounds, while shooting 50 percent from the field. Michael Singletary chipped in with 23 points of his own and added 16 rebounds, while big man Sam Deguara had 19 points and 19 rebounds.
Chong Son, who played without injured forward Caelan Tiongson, was led by Justin Howard’s 25 points and 15 rebounds, and Mikh McKinney with 20 points and three assists.
The ABL Finals begin on April 22 when Mono Vampire faces Philippine side Alab Pilipinas in the first game of a best-of-five championship series at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna, Philippines.
Alab Pilipinas holds home-court advantage in the upcoming championship round, meaning they will play the first two games and also a fifth game on their home floor if necessary.