The Chong Son Kung Fu Basketball Club suffered its second loss of the season at the hands of Alab Pilipinas on Wednesday. After leading for most of the contest, they ran out of steam and surrendered a 94-91 heartbreaking overtime defeat.
It was also a spoiled homecoming for Filipino-Americans Mikh McKinney and Caelan Tiongson who had their first ABL game in the Philippines.
However, the efforts of Kung Fu’s workhorses did not go unnoticed. After the game, Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag was obviously happy about getting the win, but also took the time to talk about Kung Fu and their imports.
“They’re a tough team, a really tough team,” Alapag said about their opponent. “They got two solid imports in (Anthony) Tucker and (Justin) Howard and they got two Heritage Imports who happen to be half-Filipino in Caelan and McKinney.”
McKinney had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals in a losing effort. Tiongson meanwhile, contributed 11 points and 6 rebounds despite battling through foul trouble.
“I think we caught a break with Tiongson getting into foul trouble a little bit. Because I think if he didn’t, they would have had all of them playing 45 minutes,” Alapag pointed out.
Tiongson was hit with three fouls in the first half because he was the primary defender of Alab’s Justin Brownlee. What Tiongson lacked in height and size, he made up for it with sheer determination and effort. The California native played solid defense so well that Alapag had flashbacks of a former opponent he faced in the Philippine Basketball Association.
“Got to give a lot of credit to Caelan Tiongson. He reminds me a lot, a lot, of Rudy Hatfield,” Alapag graciously said. “And Rudy Hatfield is a Hall of Famer here in the Philippines.”
Hatfield was 14-year veteran of the PBA who made a name for himself through his tireless energy and effort on the basketball court. A former PBA Defensive Player of the Year, he was a ruthless defender and tenacious competitor. Plus, Hatfield is a Filipino-American just like Tiongson.
“He plays the game the right way. He competes every possession. Just like Rudy Hatfield,” Alapag said about Tiongson, who also noticed the Kung Fu forward’s power and motor.”
Alapag also went on to mention the different Heritage Imports playing in the ABL, including Michael Williams of the Saigon Heat. “There’s so many great Filipino players both here at home and abroad,” he said.
Alapag is also a Filipino-American, born and raised in California. In 2003, he got a chance to fly to the Philippines and play professionally in the Philippines. The rest as they would say, is history as Alapag went on to have a prosperous career.
“I would hope that those guys would get an opportunity. Whether it’s the PBA or here with our team, those guys deserve it. At the end of the day, their blood is Pinoy,” Alapag passionately said.
It was the first meeting between Alab Pilipinas and Chong Son Kung Fu last Wednesday and the two will meet again in March. If the two teams continue to be successful in their respective campaigns, they might even meet in the playoffs. Alapag and the rest of Alab will have their hands full once again when they go up against McKinney and Tiongson.
“It was great to see Tiongson and McKinney here at home. Just not against us,” Alapag said with a chuckle.