ABL Aguilas notch first win over Mono Vampire

IMPORT Arizona Red of the Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas Aguilas dribbling against two defenders from the Mono Vampires of Thailand while trailing behind is teammate Charles Mammie during the inaugural game of the ASEAN Basketball League in Davao City last Oct. 29 at the USEP gym.

THE PACQUIAO Powervit Pilipinas Aguilas started their campaign ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) campaign on a winning note as they edged their fellow rookie team Mono Vampire Basketball Club, 79-78, Thursday night in front of a raucous crowd at the University of South Eastern Philippines (USEP) gym.

The Aguilas had to endure anxious moments throughout the game and even had to climb back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to score their first win and join defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City at the top of the standings.

Val Acuna, a veteran from the PBA, scored two crucial baskets in the closing minutes of the game that gave the Aguilas a 79-73 advantage with 23 seconds left in the ball game. However, Mono Vampire refused to quit as Darongpan Apirmovilaichai scored a basket plus the foul in the very next play. Knowing they needed even more points on the board, he missed his free throw and the gamble paid off as their import Anthony McClain grabbed the offensive rebound.

Kannut Samerjai canned a three-point shot and hoped he would get a four-point play opportunity but it didn’t happen as they fell by a single point.

Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas import Arizona Reid did not have very good shooting night but he still led the team in scoring with 21 points while adding 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Charles Mammie had a solid outing with 14 points and 14 rebounds while also having the unenviable task of putting a body on McClain for much of the game.

The Aguilas got a huge lift from Acuna who scored 10 points off the bench while former two-time PBA Most Valuable Player Willie Miller added 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Eric Salamat also had a good outing with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals.

McClain led Mono Vampire as he was unstoppable down low with 28 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks. He shot an amazing 11 of 14 from the field. He was backed up by Radtech Kruatiwa with 17 points while Apiromvilaichai and Samerjai added a combined 21 points.

The Aguilas had a tough time against a more fluid Mono Vampire squad. This was only the first time that Philippines’ representatives played as a unit while their opponents have had time to get to know each other better.

In the third quarter, Aguilas head coach pulled out Mammie for a few minutes of rest and it almost ended up being a decision he’d regret. With only Jondan Salvador guarding McClain, Mono Vampire raced to an 11 point lead, 52-41, halfway through the third quarter after a completed and-one play from McClain.

Luckily for the Philippines, Reid, Salamat, and Acuna heated up late in the quarter to cut down their deficit. Acuna hit a triple at the buzzer to trim Mono Vampire’s lead to only two points, 55-53, heading into the payoff period.

The fourth quarter saw a seesaw battle until the Philippines finally pulled away thanks to Acuna’s heroics.

Mono Vampire couldn’t blame anyone else but themselves as they committed 24 turnovers compared to the Aguilas’ 11. They also missed 12 free throws which could have spelled the difference between a win and a loss.

Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas will return to action on October 31 against the debuting Westports Malaysia Dragons while Mono Vampire will get the chance to bounce back against their neighbors in the Hi-Tech Bangkok City.

Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas (79): Reid 21, Mammie 14, Miller 12, Acuna 10, Salamat 8, Salvacion 7, Salvador 4, Elorde 3.

Mono Vampire (78): McClain 28, Kruatiwa 17, Apiromvilaichai 11, Samerjai 10, Klahan 4, Sunthonsiri 3, Muangboon 3, Sekteera 2. – ASEAN Basketball League

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