In the world of basketball, sharpshooters are a prized commodity. Players who can consistently drain three-pointers from long range are a valuable asset to any team, and Ken Tuffin is no exception. Standing tall at 6 feet 4 inches, Tuffin possesses the rare combination of height and deadly accuracy from beyond the arc, making him a player of significant interest to Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippine national basketball team.
Tuffin’s journey to potentially don the national colors has been marked by dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to his craft. He recently expressed his openness to joining Gilas Pilipinas as he plans to stay in the Philippines for the foreseeable future. This decision comes after a remarkable three-year stint in the New Zealand National Basketball League and his selection as the sixth overall pick by the Phoenix Fuel Masters in what many consider the deepest PBA Rookie Draft class in recent years.
“I’m always open to it. I’m back in the country now, so if ever I get that call and that my career is going to be here now for the next few years with Phoenix, I’ll be ready,” Tuffin stated, underscoring his readiness to represent the Philippines on the international stage.
Tuffin, a Filipino-Kiwi standout, has long been on the radar of Gilas Pilipinas. Former head coach Chot Reyes had even included him in the 23-man pool for the 2023 FIBA World Cup back in 2018, a testament to Tuffin’s basketball prowess and potential. However, circumstances prevented him from fulfilling this early call to national duty.
After a successful four-year run with the FEU Tamaraws in the UAAP, Tuffin made a bold decision to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he took his talents to the semi-professional scene in the New Zealand NBL. Tuffin first showcased his skills with the Taranaki Mountainairs before making a significant impact with the Wellington Saints, helping them secure a championship in 2021.
His consistent and scintillating performance earned him recognition from the New Zealand national team, with the Tall Blacks extending an invitation to him for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Fortunately for Gilas Pilipinas, Tuffin never suited up for New Zealand, which means he remains eligible to represent the Philippines in international competitions.
Reflecting on his journey, Tuffin shared his perspective: “I felt like there was a lot of unfinished business, right? I did not get to play in my last year in FEU because of the pandemic. Otherwise, I would’ve gone to the PBA draft after my senior year, so I took a three-year pro stint in New Zealand. I feel like that was really great for me and my development.”
As Tuffin enters the PBA, he brings with him the reputation of being arguably the best shooting rookie, boasting an impressive 49% three-point shooting percentage during the Wellington Saints’ championship run. His marksmanship was further affirmed when he dominated the Three-Point Contest in the PBA Draft Combine, scoring 15 out of a possible 18 points.
“I feel like my IQ is a lot better when I was here in the Philippines. I think the one thing Phoenix likes is my versatility, knowing that I can play the 2 or the 3 primarily but also switching out to the 4 if I need to,” Tuffin remarked, highlighting his versatility as an additional asset to his long-range shooting prowess.
With a promising career ahead in the PBA and a strong desire to contribute to Gilas Pilipinas, Ken Tuffin is a player to watch. His journey is a testament to the resilience and dedication of athletes who chase their dreams and are willing to represent their nation on the grandest stages of international basketball.