It was safe to say that no one saw the sudden marksmanship of Luo Yongxuan coming. Prior to the game against the Formosa Dreamers, Yongxuan had only logged a total of 5 minutes, let alone get off any field goal attempts. It would be understandable if the Dreamers had no scouting report on the 21-year-old forward, given the lack of information to compile on.
So when Yongxuan landed a three-pointer to regain the lead for Chong Son Kung Fu for good midway through the 4th quarter, it was pretty much expected for the Dreamers and fans of the league to be surprised.
When he dropped another important three later after Caelan Tiongson fouled out of the game, there were probably a number of people who were asking themselves “Who is this kid?”.
“We call him Camel,” Tiongson says of his young team mate’s nickname. He explains that the meaning Chinese word Luo (or 驼) is Camel.
“He comes to practice everyday and always has one of those smiles on his face. He’s positive. He works hard. And to come into a game that we’re struggling in, that’s huge.”
Justin Howard also quickly fouled out in the middle of the fourth quarter which left Chong Son Kung Fu in a tight situation. They were already getting pounded down low by Dreamer’s seven-footer Ronnie Aguilar and Tiongson was playing on an injured ankle. Losing Howard to fouls meant that someone had to step up. It was rare to see Luo get on to the court, but no one on his team was surprised when he started making those big shots.
“The way Camel is, I mean he doesn’t get many minutes, but when he comes into practice, he does the same thing.” Howard says. “Comes in and knocks down threes. He’s a consistent shooter.”
It’s that sort of repetition that prepares shooters for big moments, both mentally and physically. It gets them into their groove to be able to tune out surrounding noise and drown them out. Yongxuan might still be ways from that level, but he seems to be on the right path.
“I didn’t feel a lot,” he says when asked about what was going through his mind when he was on the floor.
“I was just focusing on the game.”
Camel’s clutch threes pretty much sealed the deal for Chong Son Kung Fu in getting the win over the Formosa Dreamers and the team’s imports weren’t holding back on letting him know that as they celebrated. For a player that barely just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago and still trying to find his feet, it’s these situations that build up the confidence and set up the right mind set for their development.
“I felt so happy and excited that I can help the team in this game,” Yongxuan said after the game. “[My import team mates] are so good. They always practice with me, step by step to help me get better.”
That bond will be important for Chong Son Kung Fu heading forward into the second half of the season. They will run into more games like this when they need another player outside of the usual Anthony Tucker, Mikh McKinney, Howard, and Tiongson to contribute. This game is certainly a good sign.
“Camel hit big shots and that’s huge for us,” Tiongson says. “Because it shows everyone that, no matter how many minutes you get, even if you don’t get minutes now, we have to go to work everyday. We practice. And that’s where you do your job.
“Camel does his job great, he came in and showed us that.”
“Our local guys did a great job filling in,” Anthony Tucker said. “I mean, Camel was making shots. Zhao [Yongmao] made some good plays down the stretch, he was physical on the paint. Liu [Zankun] was great on defense as usual. So our local players came in, played great, and they helped us.”
For fans and opposing teams, it might have been a surprise to watch as Luo dropped those long range bombs over and over again. It might have been a surprise to watch as star players struggle against Liu Zankun. But for their team mates?
“We’re not surprised,” Tucker cooly says. “We see them do it every day.”