Mono Vampire guard Darongpan Apiromvilaichai is unaffected by the taunts and comments against him, insisting he is just doing his job to help his team win against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals.
One of the Thai club’s deep well of reliable local players, Apiromvilaichai averages nearly 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists, while shooting an impressive 66 percent from the field in four Finals games against Alab Pilipinas. But apart from his contributions on the offense, he really earns his keep on the defensive end.
The long-time Thailand National Team member is well-known for his physical brand of play on defense, earning not only the ire of his opponents, but also the supporters of the opposing team. Most recently, Apirdomvilaichai became the subject of flak both on the internet and at the game venues in the Philippines, with Filipino fans calling him out as a ‘dirty player’.
“Basketball is physical game. I do play hard, but I never throw elbows or hurt any players on purpose,” said the 33-year-old guard, adding he hadn’t been intentionally trying to provoke Alab Pilipinas world import Renaldo Balkman.
“I didn’t want to (play him physical), but I had to,” adds Apiromvilaichai. “If we didn’t play him like that, he would start to feel comfortable offensively. I respect him. It’s good to play against an ex-NBA player, I had to prepare my mind to control my emotions.”
Apiromvilaichai also remarked how much he respects the Filipino fans, and while he relishes every opportunity to play in the basketball-crazed country, he fully expects to get taunted and jeered at when they take the floor on Wednesday night.
“Philippine fans are nice, they know how to cheer and support their team,” he remarked, but added that he hopes everybody’s emotions are kept in check to prevent any untoward violence, recalling an incident at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games where some unruly Indonesian fans threw water bottles and debris at them after they raced back from a 16-point deficit to beat the home team in the semifinals.
“We had to stay in the locker room for two hours after that game,” recalls Apiromvilaichai, whose team banked on the support of their home fans during Game Four on the Finals at the Stadium 29 in Bangkok.
“We will not back down, even on the road. Whatever happens, we fight to win.”
Mono Vampire will play San Miguel Alab Pilipinas for the ABL Championship in the deciding fifth game of the series at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna, Philippines.