After Taylor Statham decided to sign up for another tour of duty for Madgoat Basketball Club as an ASEAN import in the Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL), he knew anything less than making the playoffs would be considered a failed campaign.
“When I was ending my season in Thailand in March, I had offers to play in Mongolia’s League and tournaments in China,” shared Statham, adding he also received offers to join other leagues in Mexico, Indonesia, and other TBSL teams, but decided to come back to Madgoat this season for two reasons.
“We should have won the championship last year,” continues Statham. “And the team also agreed to bring in Jawhar (Purdy) and Robert (Looper), two great players and lifelong friends I grew up playing with and against. I think it gives us an opportunity bring us a championship and create something with guys I know will show up everyday and give everything they have to win.”
Purdy has since signed with Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), but it still appears that Madgoat will go as far as Statham will take them.
The 6-foot-6 swingman out of Cal State San Bernardino recently broke the league’s scoring record after dropping 57 points, while adding 16 rebounds, five assists, and three steals in a blow-out win against Laotian club, Luang Prabang, to open the second half of the tournament.
Just a week prior, Statham notched his first 50-point game in an upset win against juggernaut team Mono Vampire Basketball Club. He also added 11 rebound, seven assists, and four steals.
The team has advanced to the second round after the bottom two teams TREX and Kabayan Pilipinas were eliminated, with a solid chance to finish in the top four and crash the playoff party that will likely feature mainstay Mono Thewphaingarm and powerhouse teams Mono Vampire and Hitech Basketball Club.
“I’m happy where this path is taking me. Just making the most of it.”
Before signing on to return to the TBSL, Statham last played for GSBC-CLS Knights (a joint team of the Gading Sakti club from Jakarta and developmental players from the CLS Knights Surabaya team) in the 2017 Jawa Pos Tournament in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Unfortunately, his yet-to-be completed papers meant he was not eligible to join the Knights as a heritage import in the ABL, nor could he join the Philippine Basketball Association draft.
Wanting to play for a Philippine team has always been one of Taylor’s goals, and he promises to do whatever it takes to be able to complete his official papers.
“I do wish I would have taken the offer to play with Mighty Sports in the Merlion Cup in 2016, just to be a part of that championship team and a chance to represent the Philippines. I also wish I had my Filipino passport this summer to accept the offer to represent the Philippines in the FIBA 3X3 competition, but no regrets.”
A fan favorite in all of the six countries he has played in, Statham still hopes to have his biggest supporters be able to witness and cheer him on in his professional games in the flesh.
“My family is extremely supportive. They hate when I leave for conferences but this is my third year, and as long as I’m safe and doing what I love, that’s all that matters. The next place I play, I want to fly my family and girlfriend out so they can experience a new culture and really get to see me play in another country.”
“It’s one thing to watch videos, see pictures, and look at all the amazing things fans write, but being in that moment halfway across the world, to feel the energy and love from the people while doing what you love in front of thousands is indescribable. That would be a magical moment.”
The journey for Statham was never easy, but this is the dream he had been chasing for some time and he knows that taking on assignments like these mean certain sacrifices had to be made.
“I think the hardest part of playing overseas is being away from my family. They are everything to me. My mom was asking me to come home at the time, almost forcing me to, and it wasn’t until I got home that she told me that she wasn’t and she needed to have surgery. She didn’t want me worrying while I was away. Thank God the surgery went perfectly.”
Now in his third year as a pro, Statham has learned to play outside of his comfort zone and also try to be a sponge and absorb everything he can learn from veteran teammates and also from opponents throughout the years.
“For me, it’s never about somebody being better or worst than me. There’s always respect. There’s something each player does great that you can add to your game. Playing alongside Leo Avenido my rookie year, I tried to take his relentless approach to scoring, while Magnum Rolle got me working to get my mid-range game better. Playing against Patrick Cabahug really impressed me with his footwork off the dribble.”
Statham might face more roadblocks along the way, but he is willing to take more detours just to get to where he ultimately wants to be. He has since been in touch with people with legal means to help process his papers. In the meantime, South America, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and even the NBA G-League are all possible destination in the near future.
“All about the journey. Wherever I decide to go is going to be great because I just keep working hard and get an opportunity to wake up everyday doing what I dreamed of since I was a kid.”