Former ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) champions Hong Kong Eastern sealed the victory late against last season’s runners-up Mono Vampire Basketball Club at home, 95-88.
Both teams made import changes before the game, and it was Mono Vampire who started the game hot with an early 10-point lead. Eastern’s new import O’Darian Bassett made his first ABL points with two shots from charity stripe, but his team was still trailing by 13 points after Mono made a 9-4 run to end the first quarter.
Mono Vampire’s new import Malcolm White continue to power his presence in the paint by grabbing offensive rebounds, but former World Import MVP- Marcus Elliott returned the favor by scoring eight points in a row, including two shots from beyond the arc. The home team was able to tied the game after Tsz Lai Lau and Bassett swished in two long bombs, however Vampire’s floor general- Jason Brickman ensure his team hold a four points lead into the third quarter.
As White hurt himself early of the second half, teammate Mike Singletary became more aggressive driving to the basket, while reserve big man Teerawat Chantachon played solid against former teammate Samuel Deguara down low, managing to dropped a few buckets even with a significant height disadvantage. The visiting team held a slim eight-point lead, powered by Singletary’s 13 points in the third.
However, Eastern did not back down but fought through the final quarter, cutting the lead down to two after veteran Lee Ki made another shot from deep. It was Lee who gave his team back the first lead after another long bomb at the 04:09 mark, and Bassett’s pull-up jumper forcing Mono Vampire to called a time-out. The Thai team let the victory slip away after Bassett and Elliott made a strong 14-7 run to end the game.
Bassett made a strong debut for Eastern by adding 28 points, including some highlight-worthy ball-handling in front of the home crowd. Lee Ki, who came out from the bench, made five of his nine shots from deep, contributing 15 points and four steals to help lead his team back to win the game.
Mono Vampire’s Mike Singletary and Jason Brickman continue to be a deadly duo, combining for 39 points, 18 boards and 15 dimes. Malcolm White, who injured his hamstring late of the second quarter also made his presence felt in his debut, scored 21 points and 10 boards in just twenty-two minutes of playing time.
Eastern will look to extend their winning streak on 6th of January against the Westports Malaysia Dragons in Malaysia, while the Thailand-based Vampire is going to play another game in CIS Arena against Saigon Heat on the same day.
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