Far Eastern University cager Ken Tuffin, taking time off from his collegiate stint in the Philippines, drew impressive numbers in his first two games in a semi-professional basketball tournament in New Zealand.
As the season got under way last week, the 6’6” small forward of the Tamaraws averaged 14 points, five rebounds and 1.5 assists in 23.7 minutes after four games for the Taranaki Mountainairs in the New Zealand National Basketball League.
The tournament got under way last week, with Tuffin playing for the Mountainairs in their second and third games of the season at the Trusts Arena in Henderson, Auckland.
Tuffin, whose mother is from Pangasinan, drilled in 10 points and had four rebounds when he started out for the Mountainairs in their second game of the season, helping the team pull off a 112-96 beating of the Nelson Giants.
Then, he had 14 points and six rebounds, behind top scorer Derone Raukawa when the Mountainairs bowed to the Canterbury Rams, 101-121.
In a losing game (93-109) against the Huskies, Tuffin led the Mountainairs with 19 points, the same output of star player Derone Raukawa.
The FEU skipper was supposed to be on his final year with the Tams in season 83 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
But he got stuck in New Zealand during the semestral break, and could not get home following the implementation of quarantine measures in the country last March 15.
With Season 83 not expected to begin till next year, because of uncertainties caused by lockdown protocols done throughout the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, he decided to accept an offer to play for the Mountainairs.
“Quite a relief to finally get out there, I was quite worried you know, I’ve been training with the team and all of that. I didn’t really know what’s going to happen so I was just waiting patiently on the decision of the UAAP board and thankfully, they let me and understood I’ll play as an amateur and I won’t be able to lose my eligibility status so I’m thankful for that,” said Tuffin in a podcast.
Tuffin said he got clearance to suit up for a team in Zealand from the league while waiting for his chance to return to the Manila and play his last season for the Tams.
“I guess right now in New Zealand I was very fortunate to have this opportunity at the moment to play,” added Tuffin.
The Mountainairs now have a 2-1 win-loss record.
They are currently running third in the seven-team field, with Rams and Otago Nuggets in first and second spots.
Returning to play for the Tams when the schedule of season 83 is among Tuffin’s plans after his stint with the Mountainairs is done.
“Yeah, I still have one more year and I’ll be back,” added Tuffin.
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