Taiwan hoops legend still remembers Samboy Lim

Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com
Taiwan hoops legend still remembers Samboy Lim

Cheng Chih-lung and Samboy Lim

TAIPEI – For his dazzling performance in the 1985 Jones Cup, Samboy Lim is still widely remembered by the Taipei basketball people.

Taipei cage legend Cheng Chih-lung, now serving as assistant coach of the Taipei national team, admires Lim, whom he considers among the best Filipino players he’s seen.

Cheng was 16 when Lim put on a show here and helped anchor the Northern Cement-Philippine team to a title run climaxed by a 108-100 overtime triumph over a US selection of future NBA players.

A few years later, Cheng had his own spectacular show in Manila as the lead star of the Taipei team in the 1987 Asian Youth Championship. He further caught the attention of the Filipino fans in his return later to play in a PABL invitationals.

At the height of his stirring Manila stint, he was christened “The American Ninja” by the Filipino fans being a dead ringer for the lead star of the said movie.

At home with a long tenure of 13 years as a national player, the high-leaping 6-foot-3 player earned the nickname “The Doctor” after Julius “Dr. J” Erving.

He has fond recollection of the 1987 Asian Youth Championship, including the passionate Filipino fans with their roars and stomping of feet on the rickety wooden gallery of the old Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

“It was so loud,” said Cheng, a cage star, who later served as a legislator.

Another Filipino player he still remembers is Marlou Aquino, a rival from the Asian youth all the way to the Asian men’s championships.

Back in those days, Cheng said the Philippines was known as the only Asian team resembling the style of play of the Americans.

In Taiwan during those years, the hottest item is jersey No. 12.

“That’s the jersey of Cheng Chih Lung. If you play basketball and you don’t wear that, you’re not in,” said Taiwanese sportswriter Chih Hung Chen.

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