Athlete revisited: TY Tang

Arguably one of the best point guards to put on a La Salle jersey, Tyron Conrad Tang or “TY” Tang once ran the same floor as today’s Green Archers. Tang, together with his team, was responsible for several classic basketball games that fired up the entire DLSU community.

The LaSallian sat down with Tang to revisit his years as a Green Archer and how it has led up to his unforeseen basketball career as a professional.

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The redemption year

In 2004, the Green Archers went on to capture the UAAP championship after facing FEU in a best-of-three series. The following year, the two powerhouse teams squared off again but this time, the Tamaraws emerged victorious. However, after learning that DLSU had fielded two ineligible players, the team received a notice that their championship from the previous year and their runner-up trophy would then be surrendered to the Tamaraws.

The controversy led to the suspension of all La Salle teams during the 2006 UAAP season. Everyone saw this development as a devastating blow to the entire DLSU sports community. However, the Green Archers thought otherwise. With a year away from the bright lights of the UAAP, the Green Archers went back to the drawing board and focused on the following season, with the long layoff also helping Tang put his future in perspective.

“This was also a time for me to decide whether to move on with my career, whether it be a basketball career or a corporate career, or do I still stay with the school and play it on,” Tang, who was in his final academic year, recounted. “Eventually, I decided to play it on and stick with my team.”

Tang then mentioned how he and the Green Archers continued their rigorous preparation for the upcoming season. He says that basketball is a developmental skill that requires muscle memory and a lot of practice. “Everyday is another day to polish your skills,” Tang emphasized.

Besides their skills on the hard-court, the team also made use of the suspension year to further bond as a unit. “What I can say about this team compared to other teams I’ve been in is that we were pretty solid, from the first player to the last,” the former Green Archer said.

With the 2006 UAAP season coming to a close, La Salle was looking to prove others in the succeeding season. The team joined various summer leagues and triumphed over the nation’s top collegiate teams despite being away from the UAAP for a year.

“We’ve to prove others wrong that even with the suspension, we were still indestructible,” Tang said as he described their run. “We had a formidable team, and the coaches had prepared us well.”

Eventually it was DLSU coming on top in a huge upset against the undefeated UE Red Warriors in the finals. Tang, who had been putting up a few numbers prior to the suspension, then stunned all his critics in 2007. It was the sweetest of them all, as Tang would mention. After being put on hold for an entire season and fighting their way through the elimination round, the UAAP saw the Green-and-White emerge on top once again.


Strong basketball foundation

After his stint in DLSU and the PBL’s Harbour Center, Tang was drafted 12th overall by the Welcoat Dragons, presently known as Rain or Shine (ROS) Elasto Painters, playing for the team for seven seasons before retiring earlier this year. In 2012, Tang played big as they won the Governor’s Cup that year. Tang credits the majority of his pro basketball stint to his years as a Green Archer guard.

“Graduating from La Salle, one of the best institutions in the country today, I’d say that it gave me a lot of opportunities in the PBA because of the championship experience that we had, as well as being under the Pumaren system,” the former Elasto Painter said.

He was not at all hesitant to reveal a sneak peak of the sophisticated system former head coach Franz Pumaren had instilled into his players.

“Being under a Pumaren system translated into being well-coached and under a very stable system,” he said. “With that, I’d say that it had jumpstarted my career in the PBA because all the coaches in the league knew who Coach Franz was. They knew what kind of system
he used and it was then easier for them as coaches to instill to me whatever system they had.”


Moving on

Fresh off retirement, Tang has the chance to choose what he wants to do next with his life. His priority, of course, is to stay close to the game that made him who he is today.

He stated, “I don’t want to lose my connection to the sport because ever since I was young, and I’ve been playing for more than 20 years, it was just basketball for me. The game has given a lot to me; it has opened a lot of doors, as well. The least that I can do for the community is to share my passion as way of giving back to the next generation.”

With this in mind, the former Green Archer established the TY Tang Basketball School. As a program for kids aged 4 to 18, Tang plans on instilling characteristics and values that will help the children on and off the basketball court.

“The basketball school is for me to really share my passion to those who are new to the sport,” he explained. “I’d share with them the best of knowledge that I have to hone their skills, not just in basketball, but their character development; the values, traits, and attitude you’re supposed to hold up to in order to become a better individual.”

Aside from that, Tang works in his family’s business, which is involved in the electrical supplies industry.

When asked if there’s a chance he’d follow in the footsteps of former teammate and current Lady Archers head coach Cholo Villanueva and get into coaching, Tang was hesitant. He argued that his style of teaching is more suitable for kids starting up, not adults looking for instructions.

“Right now, I teach basketball as a skills coach,” he said. “It’s a different kind of atmosphere for me. It’s more fulfilling and [less stressful] for me. I’m a very patient person. I can be patient trying to explain to a kid the proper form of shooting. Sometimes it could take me 15 to 20 minutes for each kid to explain the proper form of shooting. But being a head coach is at a very different level.”

He does say though that being in the presence of Pumaren and Yeng Guiao all those years has taught him a lot.

“I’m not sure if I’m up to that right now,” he admitted. “But then again, I’m not closing my doors.”

Tang gave his all for the Green Archers. Through the celebrations, the drama, and the heartbreak, he experienced both the highs and lows of DLSU’s run in the mid-2000s. As he starts the next chapter of his life, Tang still relies on the skills and values that were instilled in him while at DLSU to guide him through life since even after hanging up his sneakers, he will always be a Lasallian at heart.

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By Luigi Jacinto

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