MANILA, Philippines – Former University of the East point guard Rudy Lingganay wasn’t picked in the PBA draft last August but instead of sulking, the 5-9 hotshot from Zamboanga City decided to sign a second contract with the Kuala Lumpur Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
One of four Dragons and the only Filipino import standing below six feet, Lingganay has turned skeptics into believers in the ABL where he is averaging 12.5 points in 11 games so far this campaign. He’s shooting 85 percent from the line, 29 percent from three-point distance and 44 percent from two-point range. In his season opener last Oct. 2, Lingganay poured in 30 points, including 10-of-10 free throws without a single triple, in 33 minutes.
As a rookie with the Dragons last season, Lingganay hit at a 12.0 clip in 14 games.
When the Dragons beat the Philippine Patriots, 96-81, in K. L. last Nov. 28, Lingganay collected nine points and three rebounds without a turnover in 16 minutes. And when the Patriots returned the favor in a 73-71 squeaker at the Ynares Sports Arena last Thursday, he netted 12 points in 22:52 minutes.
Lingganay, 24, heads a growing list of underrated Filipino cagers making a name for themselves in the ABL where each team is allowed to recruit three Asean imports. With the Dragons, the other Filipino imports are Patrick Cabahug and Raymundo Angeles.
Satria Muda Indonesia’s Filipino imports are Kiko Adriano, J. R. Aquino and Don Camaso. Bryan Faundo, Chester Tolomia and Ramsey Williams are the Filipino imports with the Brunei Barracudas whose coach is Filipino Bong Ramos. Leo Avenido and Al Vergara are the Filipino reinforcements with the Singapore Slingers. Filipino coach Raha Mortel calls the shots for the Chang Thailand Slammers whose Filipino imports are Froilan Baguion, Roel Huganatan and Ardy Larong.
Lingganay said he thought his basketball career was over when he was snubbed in the PBA draft. “I was super disappointed,” he recalled. “I know I can play in the PBA but I was never given a chance to show what I can do. I prayed to the Lord to show me the way. I was with my girlfriend that day and I couldn’t talk to her after the draft because I felt so low. My parents and friends told me not to give up. The next day, I left for Malaysia. I’m grateful to God that He still gave me the opportunity to play in the ABL. I hope someday to play in the PBA because that’s every Filipino player’s dream. Maybe, now is not yet the time. I know God has a reason for everything.”
Lingganay said given a choice, he would choose to play for Alaska. “My UE teammates Elmer Espiritu and Val Acuna told me I shouldn’t lose hope, that I should continue playing hard,” he said. “My time will come to make it to the PBA like my other college teammates Bonbon Custodio, Mark Borboran, Marcy Arellano, Kelvin Gregorio and Hans Thiele.”
Lingganay said he owes everything to his father Rudy Sr., a retired Philippine Navyman. “My first coach was Papa,” he said. “When I was a kid, he would teach me how to play even in the heat of the day. My first formal coach was Ednie Morones at Southern City Colleges in Zamboanga City. He taught me a lot of things about playing point guard. I also owe a lot to my UAAP coaches Dindo Pumaren and Lawrence Chongson. They motivated me during my UAAP career and coach Lawrence, in the UAAP and PBL with Bacchus and Cobra. Now, I’m grateful to be playing for Dragons coach Goh Cheng Huat who has faith and trust in my game.”
Lingganay said playing as an ABL import has given him the chance to travel. “Overall, it’s a wonderful experience playing in different countries,” he said. “I’m happy but I also get exhausted. In terms of exposure, I couldn’t ask for more with my three Best Player of the Game awards last season. I’m now more confident in my playing ability. Even if I’m defended by a bigger player, I’m not afraid because my confidence level is high and I’m enjoying myself on the court. What’s important to me is I’m able to lead my team to victory every game.”
Lingganay said he came from the same barangay as FEU guard R. R. Garcia. “We’re both from Southcom Village in Zamboanga City, that’s where we started to play,” he said. “I was ahead of R. R. in school but we learned from the same coach Morones. As for my favorite point guards, they are Johnny Abarrientos, Dindo Pumaren and Olsen Racela. In the NBA, my favorites are Mike Bibby, Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups.”
Lingganay, one of three boys, said despite his international achievements, his most memorable basketball experience was playing for Western Mindanao in the PRISAA in Zamboanga City five years ago. “We won the championship and I was named best point guard and chosen to the Mythical Five,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget, more than my best player awards in the UAAP, PBL and ABL.”
Lingganay said he’s proud to be a Filipino import with the Dragons. “It’s hard being a Filipino athlete playing for a foreign team,” he said. “I know I’m playing for Malaysia but that doesn’t mean I’m not loyal to my country. I think it’s an honor for a Filipino to be chosen as an import because it’s a recognition of his skills. My biggest challenge is myself. Each game, I give it my all. I have nothing more to prove. All I want is to give my 101 percent to win.”
No doubt about it, Lingganay will find his way to the PBA sooner or later just like other undrafted players like Josh Urbiztondo, Chico Lanete, Lou Gatumbato, Mark Yee, Jerwin Gaco, Dennis Daa and Reed Juntilla, because you can’t keep a good man down.
Written by: Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)
Original link: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=638822&publicationSubCategoryId=69