Filipino guard Almond Vosotros and Filipino-Canadian Zach Nicholls have big shoes to fill for Thai basketball club Mono Thewphaingarm as ASEAN imports in the current season of the Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL).
Mono Thew had two of the most productive ASEAN import tandems last season in the TBSL in Patrick Cabahug and Paul Zamar, as the two helped the club advance all the way to the Finals, only to lose to powerhouse affiliate-team Mono Vampire. Both Cabahug and Zamar are currently playing in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), for Westports Malaysia Dragons and Mono Vampire respectively.
Vosotros, a former 13th overall pick in the 2015 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Draft last played internationally as a member of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup last year and had a very solid debut weekend. Against PEA during their opening game of the season, he notched 17 points off 7-of-20 shooting from the floor, adding seven assists, five rebounds, and a steal. He also had an impressive outing in their win against powerhouse Mono Vampire where he finished with 20 points (8-17 FG%), five rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
“It feels good that we started with the back-to-back wins. I’m happy we played well, even though we have only been practicing together for three weeks,” said Vosotros. “Of course, I am also very happy with my performance so far. Fruit of trying to get better and better through working hard. We are expected to perform every game because of expectations put on us. A lot of work to do.”
Having played in the Philippine Basketball League, it was inevitable for Vosotros to make some comparisons.
“For me, there is a huge difference because here, every team plays two Americans and two ASEAN imports together. The level of play is also very high. Usually, only one local really gets to play,” shares Vosotros. “So it means chemistry-wise, most teams are still trying to adapt their new imports. Unlike in the PBA where most of the team there have been playing together for how many years. But the PBA game is more physical.”
Fresh out of college from Arellano University in the Philippine National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Zach Nicholls is taking his time adjusting in his first professional debut.
“I was pretty tentative at first, but it was fun still getting comfortable out there. Exciting, though i still haven’t really shown what I can do,” said the Filipino-Canadian sharpshooter. “I haven’t play that much yet, but I can see it is very fast-paced like in the Philippines. Having two American imports on the court at the same time definitely makes it a higher level of play.”
Nicholls averaged just a little more than 15 minutes of action during his first two games with the team. Against PEA, he scored eight points after nailing two out of his five three-point attempts while adding two rebounds and two assists.
“I gotta earn the minutes. Gotta make different adjustments on offense and defense. I do feel there is an expectation for the team to repeat or do better than last year which adds some pressure. It’s also a good thing because this team already has that winning attitude so I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help us win.”
Mono Thewphaigarm plays with the same core team that played in the Finals last season. Darunpong Apiromvilaichai, Jittphon Towaroj, Tawatchai Suktub, Napporn Sangtong, Thailand national team member Nattakarn Muangboon, and world imports Anthony McClain and Patrick Sanders are all back to boost their campaign.