Close to quitting, Tiongson finds resurgence with NLEX
Juami Tiongson almost called it a career at the tender age of 26.
With his career spiraling down, the former Ateneo playmaker found himself backstopping bluechipper Jeron Teng at AMA Online Education in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
The Titans had their moments, but it was still a frustrating run for Tiongson that he considered giving up.
“I was thinking to quit basketball and do something else. I don’t want to be stuck in the D-League until I’m 29, so I might as well leave,” he said.
But fate didn’t bounce that way and Tiongson suddenly found himself being called up by NLEX late in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup. Tiongson’s stellar play in the developmental league convinced Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao to pick him up from the free agent pool.
“I noticed him playing well in the D-League. We needed backup point guards that time, and I saw him when he was with Blackwater, so I have a pretty good idea on what he could do. We tried him and it turned out well,” Guiao said.
And on Sunday, Tiongson had his best showing yet, racking up a career-high 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three, as his hot shooting helped NLEX beat GlobalPort, 109-99.
“Who would’ve thought, right? I really thought of quitting after all that’s happened. But I got the opportunity and the chance, so I took advantage of it. I’m really thankful to coach Yeng, boss Ronald (Dulatre), and the management for giving me this chance,” Tiongson said.
Just like how he approached his collegiate career with the Blue Eagles, Tiongson looked at every practice, every game as a motivation as he plays behind guys like Kevin Alas, Carlo Lastimosa, and Alex Mallari.
“It’s really a big thing when you play against them everyday in practice. You’re playing with the best guards here in the PBA, so when I do well in practice, my confidence level also gets higher,” he said.
“I’m so thankful to coach Yeng for this opportunity. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be in the PBA. Whether I do bad or well, he always brings me back and it really boosts my confidence,” he said.
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