Far Eastern University forward Ken Tuffin's strong play in New Zealand's National Basketball League has earned him a spot in the Tall Blacks' longlist for the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Tuffin was among 10 new players added by head coach Pero Cameron after impressing in the 2020 Sal's NBL Showdown. Drafted by the Taranaki Mountainairs last June, the 23-year-old is averaging 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in his rookie season.
Former De La Salle Green Archers center Taane Samuel, now playing for the Manawatu Jets, is also part of the list.
"The Sal's NBL has been a great opportunity to gauge our depth of talent and to discover new players that we might not have had on our radar previously," Cameron said in a statement. "I've been impressed with their ability, and increased maturity and understanding of the game. To see some of those guys after three or four years of being away has been great and has certainly added to some selection conversations for when we next have the Tall Blacks together."
Tuffin will have more chances to continue impressing officials from New Zealand's national team after Taranaki advanced to the semifinals thanks to a 99-90 win over the Franklin Bulls on Wednesday.
The Filipino-Kiwi shooter was scoreless against the same team in his last outing, but he broke out of a slump and scored nine points (3-for-6 threes) to help the Mountainairs move on to the next round.
"It was just a physical game. It's the playoffs, so that's to be expected," he said. "I'm just happy that we came away with the win as a team and we're looking forward to tomorrow's game."
Tuffin and Taranaki will have a tough task ahead of them against the Jets, who have beaten them in their last two meetings.
"It's win or go home. We have to look after our bodies tonight, prepare for tomorrow, watch some scouting videos from the other team, and we'll be OK," Tuffin said.