STA. ROSA — Caelan Tiongson put on a fine offensive display, a reminder he can play both ways.
Counted on as a defensive lynchpin for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas all season long, the 6-foot-5 forward got himself going once again on Sunday, leading the home squad's 108-81 conquest of the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors.
Tiongson dropped 12 of his 14 points in a killer 32-point second quarter where the Filipinos broke the game wide open and took a 24-point lead, 56-32, on their way to the 27-point rout despite missing hulking big man PJ Ramos, who was serving a one-game suspension.
"I know that my role is kind of different this year in terms of offense, but if my teammates find me, I'm gonna shoot it and I'm gonna play confident," he said after shooting on a 4-of-7 clip from beyond the arc.
"I think everyone steps up when PJ is out. PJ is our brother, we love that guy, and if he's out, we just want to win the game for him. And I think we got a lot of talented guys here and it's been that way all year. So for tonight, nothing crazy. I didn't think I needed to score a lot, but it just happened to be that way."
Tiongson is only averaging 7.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists this season as he joined the defending champions in this title retention bid.
That's a far cry from his numbers of 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists for Chong Son Kung Fu last year where he was tasked to be one of the top players alongside Mikh McKinney and Anthony Tucker.
But as much as Tiongson found joy in taking a bigger offensive role in the win, he's not losing sight of his main role as a defensive whiz for Alab.
"My job every night is to come in and play defense," he said. "It's fun to score the basketball, I admit, but my coaching staff is always happy with the defense I play and I'm just worried about winning the championship."
"If I got to play defense to win a championship, that's what I'm gonna focus on."