Gilas Pilipinas sharpshooter Jordan Heading told CNA Thursday that playing professional basketball in Taiwan was an opportunity he found really "hard to say no" to because of the love he has for the country after growing up in Taichung.
Heading made news across the region this year when the 25-year-old guard averaged 6.5 points and 1.5 assists with the Philippines men's national basketball team during the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers held in Clark, Pampanga in June, which included a two-game 81-78 and 82-77 sweep against historic rivals South Korea.
The 188cm Filipino-Australian combo guard went on to further delight basketball fans by posting an average of 14.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 3 assists at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia in June and July.
With the start of the basketball season in Taiwan, Heading, who is still part of the Gilas pool, now plays for the Taichung Wagor Suns in Taiwan's six-team professional basketball league T1 LEAGUE, which tipped off its inaugural season last month.
"An opportunity came up to play for Taichung and I was like that would be insane to actually live back here again and play pro ball and have my wife here with me and be able to experience life here again," Heading said. "It was pretty hard to say no to, you know, I love this place."
The player's passion for Taiwan stems from growing up in Taichung, where he lived for about 11 years after coming to the country with his family at the age of four, Heading said.
He attended Christian international school Morrison Academy Taichung but spent his fourth grade in Australia before coming back to Morrison Academy from the fifth grade until the end of the 10th grade, after which he returned to Australia, Heading said.
"I got two years of high school basketball (in Taiwan), getting to play up in Taipei in some tournaments and playing all the local schools and some colleges down here in Taichung," he said.
Enjoying the advantages of living on the school campus, Heading and his friends had regular access to the basketball court throughout the day and played all the time, he said.
"I remember even as early as third grade, I would wake up before school and go out to the courts at 6 a.m. by myself and play, then go to school and at recess time pick the ball back up, and lunch time pick the ball back up, and play after school until mom called us back home," Heading said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel