With a little over three minutes left in the third quarter, Mario Wuysang received a pass from Firman Nugroho just at the top of the key. It was a moment in transition with players scrambling all over the place, leaving Wuysang wide open behind the three point line.
There was no hesitation from Wuysang and from the moment he started gathering to take the shot, it seemed as if the whole crowd rose to it’s feet with both hands in the air. As the ball floated in perfect trajectory towards the basket, the venue went silent for a split second.
As soon as the shot trickled through the hoop touching nothing but net, Gor Kertajaya erupted in cheers.
The CLS Knights were still down by 6 points at that moment, but it’s not everyday that you can celebrate a national hero and the star of the franchise score their 1,000th career point in the ASEAN Basketball League.
And Mario Wuysang did just that.
“I’m blessed being able to have this opportunity to come back to the ABL and achieve scoring 1,000 points,” Wuysang said after the game. “It’s just hardwork and I never think about it really. But it happened and I’m just blessed.”
It has been a long eventful journey in the ASEAN Basketball League for Mario Wuysang. Over the course of 92 games, Wuysang has one ABL Title, he’s been named the Local MVP, and now he adds another achievement to the list.
As Wuysang sank that three-pointer (his 184th career triple) to secure his 1,002nd point, you couldn’t help yourself from getting flashbacks of him and his previous glorious days with Satria Muda Britama and the Indonesia Warriors. Seeing him maintain his level of production now in his current Purple and Gold uniform with the CLS Knights brings back good memories, not only to the fans but to Wuysang himself.
“It feels great to be back in the ABL.” Wuysang had stated earlier in the season. “I’ve always felt comfortable in this league and felt that this league gave me a chance to actually showcase and appreciate my abilities.”
“I’ve had so many great memories in the league,” Wuysang reminisces. “My fondest would have to be winning the chip in 2012. Facing the San Miguel Beermen was tough and for us to win with an amazing group was special.”
Everyone remembers the 2012 title squad led by Coach Todd Purves that boasted Steve Thomas, Evan Brock, Jerick Canada, Stanley Pringle, Wuysang himself, along with locals Rony Gunawan and Amin Prihantono.
“One of the best teams the ABL has ever had.”
Prior to this season, Wuysang played four seasons in the ABL, coming in mid-season in the first year. He’s been to the ABL Finals three times. His teams have never missed the playoffs and has never had a losing season. This year, while the Wuysang’s CLS Knights still have a chance to turn it around and make the playoffs, they will have to endure a losing record in their debut season with a 3-11 record and only 6 games left to play.
“It’s tough for me because I know how to win in this league.” Wuysang passionately expressed. “There are somethings that I, as a player, cannot control. That goes with any professional organization, so I’m just trying to do my part. But it is frustrating to take in losses and I’ve never been in a situation like this but hopefully we can turn something around.”
“The season’s not over. We’ll keep fighting.”
“This is a tough league. It’s a struggling year. New team. We’re going to keep fighting. I will keep fighting.”
The Saigon Heat had built up a lead as big as 18 before Wuysang nailed his milestone shot. But Wuysang and company had fought back to cut it down to as close as 4 points shortly after that shot. The CLS Knights still eventually lost the game but as they have shown time and again over the season, they — and Wuysang in particular — would never give up until the end.
It’s that fighter’s mentality that we’ve consistently seen from Wuysang that’s made him a fan favorite. Wuysang has never backed down to anything, even playing at the age of 38-years-old in a league that keeps getting faster and faster. But Wuysang has never backed down. He’s never caved in and he’s putting up some of the best numbers of his career. That’s why he gets so much respect and love from the basketball community.
“I think it’s a mindset,” Wuysang explains. “People talk about the discipline as far as eating and consistently working out but it starts in the mindset, that’s what I believe.”
“And I appreciate the love I’ve gotten throughout my career overseas. That means more to me than anything. The love I get, for example, from the Philippines, from Thailand, from any country. I pride myself in getting recognized in other countries.”
Fans appreciate talent and they give respect to where it’s due. Wuysang has done more than enough throughout his entire career to deserve such recognition from all over the region and has only added more to the list by being the fastest ever in the league ever to score 1,000 points as a local player.
The CLS Knights might not be in an ideal situation but there’s probably no other player the team would want to lead them through the storm than Mario Wuysang.