By Jonas Terrado
Far Eastern University mainstay Kenneth Tuffin is off to a good start in New Zealand where he suits up for the Taranaki Mountain Airs of the National Basketball League.
Through two games, the southpaw Tuffin has averaged 12.0 points on a .471 shooting percentage with 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists after being selected as the 44th overall pick of the Mountain Airs in the NBL Draft earlier this month.
Despite playing in New Zealand’s pro league, Tuffin remains eligible to play out his final UAAP season for the Tamaraws since he is a considered an “amateur without compensation,” per the FEU’s athletic department.
“Quite a relief to finally get out there,” the Fil-Kiwi forward told the Prospects Pod podcast last Friday. “I was quite worried you know, I’ve been training with the team and all of that and I’m in the starting group and all of that then my eligibility come up and make some waves there, I didn’t really know what’s gonna 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,” Tuffin added.
Tuffin was part of his starting five for his NBL debut last June 24, posting 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes as the Mountain Airs defeated the Franklin Bulls 107-95.
He once again started in the Mountain Airs 112-101 loss to the Canterbury Rams and produced 14 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
“(I just want to) progress individually as a player and (do) whatever I can to help my team win,” he said. “I’d always be like in FEU just whatever they need me to do to help the team be successful and put myself in a position which I know I can excel, just trying to help the team I can.”
For all our friends in the Philippines – Kenneth Tuffin will be lining up for the @mountainairs_nz today in the #SalsNBL – grab your https://t.co/rnbBP7w7FU and join us / only 68 peso weekly pass. Tip-off is 3:30pm (Manila) @CignalTV @OneSportsPHL @pbaconnect pic.twitter.com/8zjDcxIYcb
— NZNBL (@nznbl) June 24, 2020
The 23-year-old will return to FEU once the New Zealand NBL season is over for the UAAP season which is eyeing a 2021 start due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuffin is the latest Filipino to ply his trade overseas after Kai Sotto in the NBA G.League and former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena, who officially signed with San-En Neophoenix of Japan’s B.League last Wednesday.