IN a bid to revive the defunct Tiong Lian Basketball League, basketball patron and Tanduay big boss Bong Tan has launched a tournament for the league’s former stars and alumni of all its member schools.
Made up of top Fil-Chinese schools in Metro Manila, Tiong Lian was one of the country’s oldest high school leagues. But internal strife mothballed its 44th season in 2013 and the league hasn't opened shops since.
This year, Tan is breathing new life into the league he was once a part of by coming up with the Tanduay Athletics 1st Metro Manila Tiong Lian Veterans Men’s Basketball Tournament in the 40-years old and up and the 50-and-up divisions.
“Parang trial lang to kasi we want to revive the Tiong Lian proper, so habang ini-study natin kung paano i-revive yun, we started with the veterans muna,” said Tan while hosting the team managers meeting at the Century Park in Manila.
“Saka yung mga veterans na basketball players sa mga Chinese schools, wala na raw mga exercise, kaya ginawa natin itong tournament,” he added.
Tan will once again don the golden yellow jersey of his high school alma mater St Jude Catholic School in the 40-49 category in this league that produced stars like Lim Eng Beng, Atoy Co, Kenneth Yap, Sonny Co, Alex Tan and recent stars Joseph Yeo, TY Tang, Chris Tiu.
It is also the league where former La Salle star and now Alaska wingman Jeron Teng became the first high school player to score more than 100 points in a game between his Xavier Golden Stallions and Grace Christian College in January 5, 2010.
“Sayang naman yung liga if we won’t revive it. Ang dami na nyang history at mga notable stars na na-produce,” said Tan.
Meanwhile, 1984 MVP and former Philippine Cultural star forward Ronnie Co welcomed a league that gave old-timers the chance to play.
“Basketball is almost a religion here in the Philippines. Basketball is bordering on religion here in the Philippines, to a certain extent we are all crazy about basketball,” said Co, who is now the president of Federal Tyres Philippines.
The games started on Sunday morning at the Chang Kai Shek College Gym In Manila with 16 teams vying for the inaugural crown of the tournament handled by Johnny Tam with Christian Tan as project director.
Competing in the 40’s division are St. Jude, Uno, Xavier, Grace, St. Stephen, Jubilee, Philippine Cultural, St. Peter and Chang Kai Shek while teams entered in the 50’s wars are St. Jude, Uno, Ting Se, Grace,. Westminster, Chang Kai Shek and Philippine Cultural.