Chongson Kung Fu Basketball Club is set to play their only regular season game in the Philippines against Alab Pilipinas, and their two Filipino-American heritage players are eager to show out while they are there.
“Most excited I’ve been to play in any country so far as a professional,” says Caelan Tiongson, whose dad hails from the southern basketball hotbed of Cebu. “I expect great energy for sure. It’s a basketball country so it should be awesome.”
Averaging a solid 14 points, almost eight rebounds and three assists per game, Tiongson has been one of the most consistent frontcourt players for Kung Fu after world import Justin Howard and local star Guo Kai.
After playing through most of the fourth quarter with a bum ankle in a close win against the Formosa Dreamers, the gritty 6-foot-4 forward hopes to be back to full health before the next game tips off.
“That’s the plan. I never want to make excuses, but I’m just hoping my ankle is good enough to allow me to play my best game. I trust my teammates to pull through even if I am not 100 percent.”
Teammate Mikh McKinney, who last played in the NBA D-League for the Delaware 87ers, also feels the same excitement to play in the Philippines.
“It’s definitely a blessing to be able to come here, see the place where half of my family comes from and be able to show the people from here how I have grown back home in the U.S.,” said the 26-year-old point guard. “My mother moved from Zambales to the States, obviously had a plan to give her family something different and it’s an honor to be able to come back and represent and show what I have become.”
He adds, however, that it is all business once the opening buzzer sounds.
“I go into every game with the same mindset. Just gotta do whatever my team needs me to to get the win. We are expecting a very tough game against a good team who has been playing very good since they made some changes after Christmas. This is going to be a very fun game with great players on both teams.”
McKinney has played four games for Kung Fu, averaging an impressive 22.7 points, six rebounds, four assists, all while shooting 50 percent from the field after replacing fellow Fil-Am Jonathan Bermillo.
The league’s second-ranked team is looking to improve their 6-1 standing against a surging Alab Pilipinas side who has won their last three games and currently stands at 6-4.
Chongson plays Alab Pilipinas at Sta Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna, Philippines at 8 PM.