Not too long ago, finding quality high school talent outside of the UAAP and NCAA wasn’t too difficult.
Thanks to the Tiong Lian league, it provided a venue for the likes of Joseph Yeo, Woody and Kish Co, Christian Luanzon, Justin Chua, Jeric and Jeron Teng, and one of Philippine basketball’s best in Lim Eng Beng, to establish themselves in local collegiate and professional hoops.
Unfortunately, the Tiong Lian league folded up in 2013. Because of that, member schools such as Xavier School have been forced to look into other leagues to play, which are oftentimes small-ticket invitational tournaments.
But the lack of a mother league didin’t faze Golden Stallion Miguel Tan one bit.
“It’s both a positive and negative,” noted Miguel on the effect of the Golden Stallions’ situation. “Negative kasi we lost a mother league. But at least on the positive side, we get to be developed a little more. Mas focused sa goal na marecognized. We’re able to do that by working hard in practice.”
“It also means that me and my teammates have to play harder. Because we have to get the attention of bigger leagues. When we joined the Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC), we battled the likes of Chiang Kai Shek and San Beda, so have to work extra hard. It was a great learning experience for us facing teams from the UAAP and NCAA,” added Tan.
Proof of how Miguel and his teammates were able to handle big-time competition was when Xavier faced the Mapua Red Robins in the PSSBC last December. By the time the smoke of the battle has cleared, it was the Golden Stallions who prevailed over the newly-minted NCAA Juniors’ champions via a 82-49 decision. The young forward was a beast inside, registering a double-double performance of 23 points and 20 boards.
He may have playing for a team that hasn’t had a regular tournament schedule unlike in the other leagues, but Miguel’s game was loud enough to be heard by the top honchos at the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). Eventually, he became part of the Batang Gilas side that earned gold in the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball (SEABA) Under-16 Championship.
With one year left in his prep career, Miguel wants to follow the path of a former Golden Stallion who shone despite the lack of a regular league to play in, and happens to be a SLAM Rising Star alumnus as well.
“Since senior na ako, I want to be a leader to my younger teammates. I’m going to try to be like Tyler Tio kasi talagang leader siya,” he said.
While he’s not holding any promises, Miguel believes that if he and the rest of the team commit themselves to a common goal, then finishing next season in a blaze of glory isn’t that far-fetched of an idea.
“With enough hardwork, dedication, and responsibility in practices and games, we’ll be able to get there.”
The SLAM Rising Stars Classic will be held on March 31, 7PM to 9PM, at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. The game will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports via livestream.