Before joining the ABL, Caelan Tiongson had already set his mind on becoming a professional baller and is hopeful he can play in front of Philippines fans in the PBA soon. He knew his opportunity had come when he received an invitation from a Chinese club to play in the ABL.
Like with many other Fil-Ams who venture out to the ABL, Caelan understands that it’s going to be very challenging, yet the season should be interesting for him as he gets to travel around the Southeast Asian region while competing at a high level of basketball competition.
In fact, the 25-year old felt blessed and honored when he was recruited by Nanhai Kung Fu, knowing he could finally perform in front of Pinoy fans on a consistent basis. He learned about the ABL a few years back while still in the United States and had always wanted a chance to become a heritage import in the league. Aside from the Philippines’ well known love for basketball, Tiongson was personally excited about the opportunity to travel to Thailand since he already has friends stationed there who are ready to cheer him on.
Culture shock is definitely something pro-ball players have a tough time with, especially with a country such as China. The American forward is still adjusting himself to the local culture, but is already feeling much better when compared to his first week.
Language is certainly a huge barrier for Caelan, barely being able to communicate with anyone outside of the gym which he described during the interview. However, he says that fans have been nothing but supportive, constantly showing him a lot of love in their friendly games with other professional teams.
Well, “Basketball is the language that everyone can understand,” as Caelan acknowledged.
Food has been another huge adjustment for Caelan too, but he always orders Chinese Fried Rice or Stir Fried Noodles whenever he goes out, his “favorite dishes” so far. He has also learned to stay as far as possible from Stinky Tofu (a famous dish in Taiwan and China) after trying it once with his Chinese teammates. “It’s a funny experience after all,” according to Caelan.
As the most secretive team in the ABL thus far, the new Kung Fu forward did not want to reveal any critical information about the team, instead, choosing to say that fans can expect a very unselfish style of play on both ends of the floor. A team surrounded with consistent shooters and two very talented big man, Nanhai Kung Fu is going to be a huge threat for other teams. Moreover, Caelan mentions that fans need to watch out for Guo Kai, a very athletic player who is capable of making a lot of highlight plays.
Being a rookie in the league, Caelan expresses that he has a lot of respect for every team, and expects every match to be tough as nothing comes easy playing in a grown man’s league like the ABL. In terms of players, he is personally looking forward to play against Marcus Elliot, the 2016-2017 season World Import MVP.
During the pre-season friendly games, both Caelan and Elliot get a chance to play against one another and chat around outside of the gym. The rookie cites that Elliot is a real competitor on the court, but a real cool guy off the court. The way he approaches games makes him excited to match up against the award winning guard again during the season.
Tiongson thanks God for landing him in such a great opportunity to showcase his talents in the rapid growing ABL and would like to give a shout out to his entire family, especially his mother and grandma, who mean the world to him, and to his friends, the Sleeping Pandas and Biola Boys.