Juami Tiong­son rel­ishes new role at NLEX Road War­riors

Business World - - SPORTS - Rey Joble

WHEN one door closes, an­other opens. Such is the case of Juami Tiong­son, an up-and­com­ing point guard who nearly gave up play­ing pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball and em­bark in an­other ca­reer.

Last sea­son, Mr. Tiong­son, who was in the fi­nal year of his three- year deal with Black­wa­ter, was bought out of the Elite.

“They al­ready had four point guards. They even drafted Ael Ba­nal,” Mr. Tiong­son told Busi­nessWorld.

Mr. Tiong­son wanted to con­tinue play­ing in the PBA, but with no other tak­ers, he brought his wares to AMA Com­puter Col­lege in the DLeague. At 29, he felt this could be a make or break for him.

That changed un­til Mr. Tiong­son got a call from the NLEX Road War­riors camp.

Un­der head coach Yeng Guiao, Mr. Tiong­son was able to gain more con­fi­dence as he was given more op­por­tu­ni­ties to play. Proof of that was his steady plays as he be­came an in­stant con­trib­u­tor to the Road War­riors, who had made a turn­around in the Gov­er­nors’ Cup, win­ning seven of their nine games to stay in con­tention for the top four.

Mr. Tiong­son couldn’t be more thank­ful for the op­por­tu­nity of a life­time.

“I’m speech­less. Not long ago, I was play­ing in the DLeague along with the AMA play­ers. Who would have thought? I nearly quit af­ter what hap­pened to me in the PBA. I’m thank­ful to coach Yeng (Guiao) and boss Ron­ald Du­la­tre for this op­por­tu­nity. I would have quit bas­ket­ball and do some­thing else if it not for them. I don’t want to be stuck in the D-League at 29, un­til I got this op­por­tu­nity,” added Mr. Tiong­son.

With NLEX, Mr. Tiong­son knows he has to com­pete with the min­utes in the same way that he has com­peted with guards bet­ter than him, in­clud­ing Kevin Alas and Alex Mal­lari.

But the for­mer Ate­neo guard is ready for the chal­lenge.

“It’s a big thing when you play them ev­ery­day in prac­tice. You’re play­ing against one of the best guards in the PBA. When I went up against them in prac­tice, my con­fi­dence gets higher as well. I’m thank­ful to coach Yeng be­cause of this op­por­tu­nity. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be here in the PBA. He al­ways gives me chances. Whether I do bad or I do well, he al­ways brought me back in the game. It raises my con­fi­dence,” said Mr. Tiong­son.

Whether it’s garbage time or cru­cial sit­u­a­tions, Mr. Guiao was able to uti­lize Mr. Tiong­son more, giv­ing the ex­po­sure he needs to toughen him up.

“I want to play my role. With coach Yeng, he’s not ask­ing too much from his play­ers. Mostly, play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of ef­fort. When I’m in the court, I play with a lot of ef­fort,” he added. —

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