Chong Son Kung Fu was able to power through injuries and a short rotation throughout the entire season to finish as the number one seed, but fell in two games against Mono Vampire Basketball Club in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) semifinals.
It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Chinese team, after they rallied back from a sloppy 15-0 deficit from the first quarter, all the way to Mikh McKinney’s big three that tied the game at 80-all with two seconds left, only to be negated by 7’4” Samuel Deguara’s clutch shot at the buzzer.
“This game could have easily gone either way,” said coach Charles Dube-Brias. “Thinking about a few plays where we missed a layup and three, but that’s part of basketball. It’s playoffs basketball,” he expressed.
The head coach also acknowledged that his team could have grabbed the victory if they handle some parts of the game better.
The visiting Kung Fu squad was playing with one starter out, their defensive specialist Caelan Tiongson had suffered a concussion from game one.
Despite this, the Chinese squad never backed off and fought through adversity and had a chance to extend the series. As the head coach of this young team, Dube-Brias cannot be more proud for every of his players who contributed their efforts.
“I’m extremely proud of my guys, especially we held them to 83 points, I think that’s the lowest they scored all year,” he pointed out.
“Especially given the 17 points that we gave up on the first five minutes, that shows how hard we fought,” the American head coach added. “Very very proud of the way my guys handled it, and the way they fought.”
The team’s leading scorer- Mikh McKinney was visibly disappointed with the outcome, losing at the end game after contributing 20 points, four boards and three dimes, including a crucial three that almost sent the game into overtime.
“We fought hard and left it all out on the court,” the Filipino-American shared. “We really felt that we have a great chance to win the championship.”
Since his addition during the Christmas break, Kung Fu was looking better than ever. McKinney’s partnership with Anthony Tucker worked out well, leading the team to secure the number one spot of the league, with home-court advantage for the entire playoffs.
However, their Thai counterparts came into the series with more competitive morale, barely edging them out to book the last ticket to finals.
“Some of our guys will be participating in CBA D-League, it’s the first year, [so]some of our locals will join the team,” Dube-Brias shared after he was asked about the planning for Kung Fu during the off season.
After a round of compliments on his players, especially the four imports that carried most of the workload, he also expressed his gratitude about the Asia’s first and only regional professional basketball league. “I also think that the Asean Basketball League is stronger right now. Hats off to them for creating the competitive environment, we have been able to just walk into it and just win ball games.”
McKinney would also laid back and reflect his rookie season in this region, saying “I will go back to China, spend the last few days with my team and look over the season, celebrate the good things we did.” When asked about his future career plan, the 26-year-old combo guard chose not to look that far ahead, but to enjoy the present with his teammates.
“I’m not thinking about that right now, and I have a great time out here. It was fun. Right now I’m just going to enjoy the rest of my time with my team.”
Obviously things didn’t work out the way Kung Fu wanted, but their ABL rookie season can be considered a relative success. Giving most of their Chinese locals a taste of professional basketball, specifically in the Southeast Asia region.
With the upcoming tournaments and development leagues coming their way, one can expect Kung Fu to only get better when they come back next season.