Family ties foes together ahead of Thursday PacWest “Battle of the H-1

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 18, 2024

HONOLULU – When the ball is tipped Thursday evening inside McCabe Gymnasium for the first of two matchups between Hawai’i Pacific and Chaminade this season, both programs will be vying for a hand up on the other in the first bragging rights matchup of 2024. 

The Division II rivals have played 58 times since 2003 but Thursday’s matchup will be the first time pitting a pair of brothers from the Ng family against each other. 

In all, there are five Ng children. The oldest of all is KJ, followed by 23-year-old Kam, then 21-year-old Kordel. The youngest son, Karter, rounds out the boys and the lone daughter, Kalysa, brings up the caboose on the Ng train. 

Only two of the Ng kids currently suit up for Hawai’i colleges on the hardwood. 

Kameron Ng, Chaminade’s redshirt junior guard, transferred into the Silverswords’ program and redshirted last season after starting his career at the University of Hawai’i-Mānoa. He spent two years at his home island’s Division I school before a detour to the Big Island for a season with the Vulcans at UH-Hilo. He was one of the more decorated hoopers in the state of Hawai’i coming out of high school, winning multiple HHSAA Division II titles in his time at Saint Francis High School while being named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in back-to-back years to close out his prep career. 

In his third transfer, Kam finally feels most at home. 

“[Chaminade] lets me be myself [even more] than my prior stops, and that’s not to say anything bad about the other two schools. I just [feel like I] can be myself, my personality, how I play, I feel like they let me be myself and I really appreciate that for sure,” Ng said. 

Younger brother Kordel, a junior at HPU, has not had to make as many moves as his older brother and did not receive as much national attention but certainly is a certified hooper himself. After three years competing for St. Francis, Kordel made his only Hawai’i school move up into the hills of Kāpalama to play with a friend for Kamehameha for his senior season. He took a prep season in Arizona following his senior year and returned home to compete for Hawaii Pacific after a brief stay on the mainland. 

For both brothers, staying in Hawai’i to continue their basketball careers and academic journeys was important. 

“I wanted to be home and play in front of my family,” Kordel Ng said during a phone interview. “The mainland is a lot different from Hawai’i and I just really like the island vibes so that was big for me.” 

After finishing his high school stay with a bang, older brother Kam had a few options to go to the mainland for college but chose to forgo those opportunities to stay home and play for the state’s school. 

“I took a couple visits [to mainland schools] but nothing really felt comfortable, felt like home like Hawai’i does,” the second-oldest of the five Ng children shared. “When it came down to it, I felt like playing in front of friends and family and being able to go home whenever I want to? [Those were] big reasons for staying home.” 

Both quickly saw the benefits of playing in their home state, allowing friends and family to watch as their stories continued to be written. For Kam, he made the move after two seasons with UH to head to the Big Island, suiting up for the Vulcans of UH-Hilo for the 2021-22 season and remaining within the Hawaiian Islands as he worked with a fresh start. 

At that same time, Kordel had just committed to HPU and would be on the basketball team for the upcoming season – his first at the college level. The two brothers, both growing up playing together and for the same teams, would become enemies between the lines for the first time with both colleges holding membership in the PacWest Conference and promising a pair of matchups between the programs. 

Both of those rounds went to Hilo. The first game saw the Ng brothers both come off the bench, neither playing more than 16 minutes as the Vulcans cruised to a double-digit win. The second meeting, however, had a bit more on the line with both brothers being inserted into the starting lineup. 

“Going into the game we both knew we were going to start so there was a little talking before the game,” Kameron chuckled as he reminisced. 

“There was a lot of friendly competition… plus [when we both started] it was at the old Saint Francis gym, so it was good fun,” Kordel recalled. 

The former St. Francis standouts, returning to the old stomping grounds, both wanted that win a bit extra. 

“It was kind of joking, talking back-and-forth. When it got to the game, I dapped him up, I hugged him and right after that it was that he was my enemy,” Kameron said of the games. 

Two years later, the time has come for a new entry into that friendly family feud. 

After a year and change away from the court dealing with transfer rules and injury, Kameron made his return for Chaminade on December 12 and has played in nine straight games since to give him the needed warmup to knock off the rust ahead of the Silverswords’ matchup against HPU on Thursday. 

He was forced to watch from the bench last season as the programs split the annual pair of matchups and brother Kordel was forced to wait another year before potentially getting a chance at revenge and to pick up his first win in the Ng Series that favors Kam. 

While there’s excitement in the two different players matching up for the third time in their college careers, it’s hard not to see the connections that remain between the brothers. 

Each has kept a social media handle of @Kamfromross or @Kordelfromross for almost as long as either can remember. For them, it serves as a childhood joke with friends about where a lot of their wardrobe was from but also a reminder of how they started as they continue their journey. 

The similarities don’t stop there. Each of the guards dons the number 50, honoring the state of Hawai’i wherever they go. While Kordel has never switched his number, Kam was the one that came up with the idea. 

“When I was at UH-Mānoa, I wore #50, so I started it,” Kam laughed telling HSRN. “Before I went into college, I told myself I was going to wear #50 wherever I went just to represent Hawai’i. I’m Hawaiian, Hawaiian-blood, so I like to represent Hawai’i as much as possible… I think Kordel being a good little brother, he understood that.” 

Kordel admitted as much, allowing that the inspiration to wear #50 in college came from his brother after his high school number (#3) was taken when he got to HPU. To him, pride in representing both his home and his family was everything – from college choice to jersey number. 

On the court, the actual skills of the sport between brothers can be divided amongst the pair. Surprisingly enough, each agrees that while Kam has a slight edge in shooting, passing, and ball-handling, it is little brother Kordel that is the lockdown defender and better athlete among the two. 

“He’s not far off in most of the categories from me,” said Kam during a full analysis. “Every summer we’re working out together so I would be a bad older brother if I was saying I was way better than him… I’ll give him athleticism and defense; I’ll give him those two… He’s actually an elite playmaker.” 

When asked on his end, Kordel, with a big grin, agrees only to add: “Athletically-wise, my worst day is way better than his best day.” 

Both will get the chance to show the other how right they are on Thursday as Chaminade hosts Hawai’i Pacific in a crucial PacWest mid-season matchup. While both want to show a little extra in a matchup that is sure to have family in the building, both are certainly more focused on securing a win for their squad. 

“Whether it’s me and him going at it or if our teams are going at it, I just want it to be a competitive game,” Kameron said about the upcoming matchup against HPU. “When we’re out there at the same time, I’m going to go at him. I’m not going to go easy on him and I don’t expect him to take it easy on me.” 

“Oh, and I hope to come out with the win, that’s the main thing,” he added to close. 

One question remains then: who the heck do mom and dad root for? 

Of course, the middle child had the answer. 

“For my parents, it’s pretty easy,” Kordel joked leading up to the game. “I’m their favorite so easily they’re going to pick HPU. They’re big Sharks fans.” 

You can listen to Hawai’i Pacific @ Chaminade men’s basketball matchup that tips off around 7:30 p.m. HT on Thursday, January 18 on Hawaii Sports Radio Network, 95.1 FM / AM 760 or streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com – also available in podcast form following the conclusion of the game where most podcasts can be found.