Alab's new recruit Caelan Tiongson: 'I would love to be the next Rudy Hatfield'

Danine Cruz on Oct 16, 2018 08:04 PM
Alab's Tiongson: 'I would love to be the next Rudy Hatfield'
Alab Pilipinas' newest recruit is the reincarnation of Rudy Hatfield

Back in February this year, the ASEAN Basketball League's Chong Son Kung Fu played an away game in Sta. Rosa, Laguna versus Alab Pilipinas. The home team won that match but head coach Jimmy Alapag still commended a player he noticed from the other side: Caelan Tiongson.

Tiongson, who happens to be a Filipino-American, was described by Alapag as a player like PBA champion Rudy Hatfield. Mentioning Tiongson's eagerness and ability to battle each possession, Alapag deemed Tiongson worthy of comparison to the 2002 PBA Finals MVP, three-time PBA All-Star, and two-time PBA All Defensive team member.

Fast forward eight months later to the ninth season of ABL, the man Alapag considers as the second coming of Hatfield will now be donning a San Miguel Alab Pilipinas jersey.

"Obviously, I had a good relationship with [Chong Son] Kung Fu, and I think we were all intending to go back. But my general manager wanted to hold off because of the rule changes. When that happened I started exploring other options and an option always on my mind is the Philippines," said the 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists for the China-based squad.

"Being half Filipino, it's just attractive for me to come play here in front of these fans," Tiongson said, "It will be a better move for me career wise."

When asked about his reaction about the high praise he received months ago from his current coach, Tiongson admitted that he needed to run a research on who Hatfield was.

"I actually wasn't aware who Rudy Hatfield was before [Coach Jimmy Alapag] made those comments. After, I looked him up and then I saw that he had a great resume. He was a legend and he played really hard and he was winning championships out here and I want to embody that, for sure," said the 26-year-old Tiongson.

"I would love to be the next Rudy Hatfield. That would be cool," he said with a smile.

Aside from Alapag, Tiongson proudly shared that Tim Cone, the winningest coach in the PBA, also gave him a nod.

"When I came here, another coach, Coach Tim Cone, he was pretty complimentary with my game as well," Tiongson shared.

Tiongson will enjoy the privilege of being mentored by some of the biggest names in the PBA as Eric Menk and Danny Seigle are part of the Alab coaching staff.

"So obviously, being new to the Philippines, I've been told that they are legends. I'm being told that that (Eric Menk) is the best power forward, (Danny Seigle) the best small forward, Coach Jimmy is the best point guard to ever play here. Hearing all that, it's definitely a confidence boost and these guys are very encouraging of me and they tell me that I have a lot of potential and stuff like that," said Tiongson.

"It's just a blessing to be able to play for a coaching staff like that. I'm gonna soak up as much wisdom that I can and try to be the best player that I can be," he added.

Following his transfer, Tiongson has been in the Philippines for over a month now. He shared that he has been training everyday to get ready for the season which will tip off in November.

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