Caelan Tiongson is one tough dude.
You can get a pretty good idea of how tough Tiongson is just based on his chiseled physique, but it becomes even more evident when you watch him play. Listed at 6’5″, Tiongson is not “small” yet he still seems to always play a bit bigger than he actually is. He rebounds the ball with intensity, he drives towards the basket like a bulldozer, and he’s commonly assigned to defend big World Imports (which he does effectively).
Such was the case in Chong Son Kung Fu’s game against the Formosa Dreamers. Tiongson found himself locked up in post play against the Dreamer’s World Import, Lenny Daniel.
Having to guard Daniel is no easy task. Ask any forward who has played in the ABL during the past three seasons and they can attest to that. There’s a reason why Daniel is the fastest player to score 1,000 career points in the ABL. It’s because he’s that hard to stop on offense.
Yet after nearly an entire game of being matched up with Tiongson, Daniel managed to score only 16 points on 20 field goal attempts.
If that’s not enough to prove how tough Tiongson is, imagine playing through a crucial stretch of the a game hobbling on one ankle.
Because that’s exactly what Tiongson did.
Almost halfway through the 3rd quarter, Lenny Daniel took a hard drive towards the baseline from the right wing forcing Tiongson to quickly shift over to close out his path. Daniel had a half step ahead, slithered past Tiongson and layed it in. Tiongson later described that he had a funny landing while trying to get into position and was sent sprawling to the floor clutching to his left ankle.
“I knew it was bad, that’s why I had my coach call a timeout to get some extra tape on it.” Tiongson said.
Everyone knew it was bad. After seeing Tiongson go up against bigger players, to see him hobble straight to the team’s trainer in hurry meant that it was a pretty big deal. Even more surprising was seeing Tiongson immediately return to the court after the timeout ended.
Not only was he back out on the court, limping up and down the court, Tiongson was still determined to guard Lenny Daniel and even blocking Daniel’s shot on the very next defensive possession.
“It was unfortunate that I picked up my fourth foul shortly after that because when I went to the bench, that’s when it tightened up on me,” Tiongson says of the sequence following his fall. “I just felt like I had to be out on the floor because we’re pretty slim at the big man position so I just had to be on the floor.”
“I like to compete. It was just good to be out there.”
A lot of other incidents factored in Chong Son Kung Fu slightly edging out the victory over the Formosa Dreamers in this game. Surely enough, Tiongson’s inspired play despite being injured was one of them. He came back into the game and was able to score on a difficult driving lay up over seven-footer Ronnie Aguilar before eventually fouling out of the game.
Though he had to leave the court earlier than he had wanted to, his defensive effort and determination made enough of a lasting impact to push Chong Son Kung Fu to the win.
“I mean, you just suck it up,” Tiongson said about playing through the pain. “Something Justin Howard always tells me is to ‘Be Hurt tomorrow’. It can hurt tomorrow, but it can’t hurt right now. Whatever breaks we had in the game, I was over there [with team trainer JP] and he was working on my ankle.
“I just hope its better by the next game, but I’m always gonna compete.
“I’m not the most skilled basketball player but I try really hard. It’s just a mindset: just go out there and play hard.”