MANILA, Philippines – Taane Samuel made sure to leave quite an impression in his first stint back in the Philippines.
The former La Salle big man proved to be a thorn on Gilas Pilipinas’ side after helping New Zealand cruise to an 88-63 blowout in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, February 27.
Returning to his original role as a forward, Samuel delivered 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 clip off the bench to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists as the Kiwis seized the lead in Group A with a 2-0 record.
“It’s huge for me because I didn’t really perform to the best of my abilities when I was here. It was kind of like a statement game from me,” Samuel said.
Suiting up for the Green Archers in UAAP Season 81, the 6-foot-7 stalwart appeared in only four games and averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in under 14 minutes.
By the next season, Samuel already packed his bags and decided to join the New Zealand National Basketball League (NBL), where he played a pivotal role for the Wellington Saints in their title run last year with 16.5 points per game.
He has certainly turned his career around as he signed with the Brisbane Bullets for the 2021-2022 season of the Australia NBL and got called up by the Tall Blacks.
“I just wanted to showcase what I can do because people didn’t really have faith in me when I was out here and especially playing for La Salle, one of the biggest schools in the Philippines.
“This game was big for me. It’s so exhilarating for me to play here again.”
As if back in the UAAP again, Samuel relished the opportunity of sharing the floor with the likes of former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena, former UP ace Juan Gomez de Liaño, and his former La Salle teammate Kib Montalbo.
“I enjoyed it because I like how they play here, it’s so physical and especially in the UAAP, it’s a tough college league to play, especially for me, even coming from New Zealand,” Samuel said.
“But now playing against Thirdy again, playing against Juan again, it’s different. It’s good to see how far they’ve come and it’s good to see how much they’ve flourished as basketball players.” – Rappler.com