You can rarely tell what bothers Anthony Tucker.
It gets pretty cold in the city of Nanhai on winter gamedays and is able to drop down to 8 Degrees Celcius. Such was the case in the game between Chong Son Kung Fu and the Saigon Heat. Tucker shivers a bit here and there, but you figure that the cold doesn’t bother him anyways being a native of Minnesota — one of the most notoriously colder states in the United States of America.
But you would be wrong.
“No.” Tucker replies with a chuckle when asked if this is a climate he used to playing in. “This … this isn’t cool. We come here in the morning for shoot-around on game days and it’s [10 degrees celcius]. You can see your breath. I’ve never experienced that before.”
“Minnesota’s cold outside, but they heat the gym.”
You can barely tell that it’s a problem for Tucker. Even if it was, he’s not going to let it show.
“You can’t make excuses,” Tucker says. “The game’s going to go on regardless. Whatever team decides that they’re just going to come out and treat it like a normal game is going to win. So you can’t come out here worrying about it being cold or about the other conditions.”
“There’s been other games this year in different places that conditions haven’t been great, but at the end of the day, the games are still happening so it’s just getting yourself ready to play the game and playing your best.”
For Tucker, the game against the Saigon Heat this particular night was one of those games where he “played his best” — quite an accomplishment considering the spectacular season he has been having.
A large part of Tucker’s game and what makes him so good is how difficult it is to get a read of what he is thinking — what he’s planning — when he’s on the court. He barely gives away any facial expressions that delivers any hints or clues as to what is coming up next. Rarely a smirk or a scowl. No stink faces. A stare down once in a blue moon. Even when he complains to the refs, he doesn’t give more than glare at the official with slight arm gestures as to say “seriously?”, but usually nothing more.
But when he’s on the court, Tucker maintains composure, staring emotionlessly and blankly as he weaves through defenders. Every now and then, he celebrates a basket with a smile but the more common reaction is to simply jog back to play defense.
“I try not to get sped up,” Tucker says of his in-game demeanor. “I try not to get flustered. Obviously last game [on the road against the Saigon Heat] happened and I kinda let my emotions get the best of me, but I just pride myself on being even-keeled and if nothing else, trying to guide my team mates.
“If the point guard is panicking then everyone else is going to panic. I’m just doing my best to stay even-keeled, not get too high and not get too low.”
That’s why it was entertaining to watch as Tucker took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points of his 20 points to shut down the last rally by the visiting team.
It seemed as if he had been surveying and reading the game for the first three quarters before deciding to explode in the final interval. He seemed impressively emotionless as he recorded his third triple-double of the season — a feat he accomplished without putting much effort.
“Oh, really? Did I?” Tucker asked when he was told that he had indeed compiled enough stats for a triple-double.
What you see on the court from Tucker — his calm expression, his steady composure — is quite different as to what you see off the court. He’s always fooling around with his teammates and having a good time. His social media posts are always full of comical content, making Tucker a joy to follow.
“That’s just how I’ve always been,” Tucker explains. “I’m goofy, I like to joke around a lot. We have a great group of guys, we always get along, and we have a lot of inside jokes and stuff. That’s my personality. It contrasts a lot on the court and off the court but it works for me.”
“I get to blow off steam off the court and then on the court, I get to make sure I take care of business and do the best I can.”
Tucker has surely been taking care of business this season with a ridiculous stat line of 21.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 8.1 APG.
Even more amazing is how Tucker gets his numbers. He doesn’t possess lighting-quick speed or gravity-defying hops, but he’ll get to where he — and the team — needs him to be regardless. It was even more evident in Chong Son Kung Fu’s game against the Saigon Heat where he was matched up against Akeem Scott, another spectacular lead guard in the ASEAN Basketball League.
“I’m just not as gifted athletically as he is. He’s fast, he’s strong — and aggressive on top of that,” Tucker says of his matchup. “I just try to make best with what I got: change pace, make shots, find my teammates, and do the best I can.”
Fans and opposing teams have been witnessing Tucker “making the best with what he’s got” all season in awe. He quickly introduced himself by recording back-to-back triple-doubles in just his second and third game, while also lighting it up from downtown. And he does it so effectively and efficiently.
The Chong Son Kung Fu World Import guard is one of the best three-point shooters in the league at 39.4% and has an absurd 3.9 assist-to-turnover ratio, all the while having the ball in his hands for most of the time.
“Everyone else, they ask questions about it. They wanna know how do I do it. Why do I do it stuff like that,” Tucker says. “I don’t know anything else. I’ve probably changed the least of any player ever. This is how I’ve played since I was 5 years old.”
While the idea of a miniature 5-year-old Anthony Tucker dropping triple-doubles and raining threes in youth leagues back at his hometown of Minnesota seems ridiculous, you can understand the point he is trying to raise. Tucker’s game is not dependant on his athleticism or a freak of nature physical skill. His game revolves on his ability to quickly read situations and execute. It’s the sort of skill set that never goes away no matter how much you age.
And you can be sure that’s what you are going to continue to see from Tucker with Chong Son Kung Fu in the ASEAN Basketball League.