Mono Vampire Basketball Club advanced to the Road to Final 8 round of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, after going undefeated against Pelita Jaya Indonesia, Red Baron (Malaysia), and Xin Hua (Singapore) in the SEABA leg of the Qualifiers at their home floor in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
“It’s always fun to represent Mono and especially Thailand. It’s a great experience for our young guys and I’m just happy they can continue to get more experience at this level,” said Mono Vampire import Michael Singletary, who is tabbed to focus on the FIBA Qualifiers and is currently sitting out the first few games of the Thailand Basketball League (TBL) season.
Mono Vampire started the domestic league just days after a grueling ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals that was fought against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, while also hosting the FIBA sub-zone qualifiers.
“I feel the more we play together, the better we continue to be. We trust each other more and that was a big reason we made it to the Finals in the ABL,” said Singletary of the continuous competitions the team plays in, but adds they have to be wary not to overwork themseleves or risk getting hurt. “I think it helps, but we also have to monitor our bodies. Our staff does a great job of making sure we get the most rest possible.”
“Everybody is happy because we represent Thailand, but we can’t be satisfied. We have to prepare our team for the next round,” said local hero Darongpan Apiromvilaichai, who scored 19 points in the final game after making five three-pointers against Pelita Jaya.
“We just need to continue to play our way, fast and keep moving the ball,” adds Apiromvilaichai. Stressing that the team is confident, but recognizes there is room for improvement if they are to advance to the final round of eight. “We need to try to be better with our shot selection and team defense.”
Aside from continuity and team chemistry, part of their success should be credited to the consistently solid play the Thai locals have been outputting. Big men Teerawat Chantachon and Chanachon Klahan have been reliable in guarding the paint while also contributing in the scoring column.
While Jason Brickman continued to be the glue that holds this squad together, local guards Apiromvilaichai and Chitchai Ananti have also been on fire during the tournament, combining to hit eight shots from beyond the arc (50 percent) in the final game against Pelita Jaya.
“Palm (Apiromvilaichai), Big (Chantachon), and Pei (Ananti) have really upped their games. Those guys always play well in big games and I’m happy that people get a chance to see truly how good they are,” expressed Singletary.
The Thai club, who have won with an average margin of almost 18 points a game in the SEABA Qualifiers, look to make their second straight appearance in the FIBA club championships. They have to finish on top in the next round against a field that includes Pure-Youth Construction Basketball Team (Chinese-Taipei), ONGC (India), and Pelita Jaya Indonesia, who also qualified to advance.
“They are a good team, and we respect them,” said Apiromvilaichai about their Indonesian counterparts, who they are set to play again in the next round. “They played hard, but we got the home court advantage that gave us momentum whenever we made three’s during the game. And we took advantage to run the floor because we had a small lineup.”
“They were a really strong team and I loved competing against them. (Jaleel) Roberts was a tough player to guard because he was a lot taller than me and was pretty skilled,” adds Singletary. “It will also be a fun challenge for us playing against clubs from Taiwan and India. They’re both known to be great basketball countries.”
The top team in the Road to Final 8 round will advance to join teams from a team from West Asia, China and South Korea in the ‘East’ bracket, while a second West Asian team is set to join Australia, Japan and the Philippines in the ‘West’ group when the club championships open in September.