Filipino-American professional basketball player Rudy Hatfield made his Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) comeback last Saturday, April 10, in an out-of-town game pitting Barangay Ginebra against Rain or Shine at the Victorias City Sports and Amusement Center in Negros Occidental.
Hatfield, who remains with the Barangay Ginebra lineup, left the league and the country almost three years ago to be with his then girlfriend and now wife, Bethany, who at the time was in the middle of a legal battle to obtain custody of her daughter from a previous relationship.
The workhorse cager has actually been attending team practice for weeks since returning to the roster. Barangay Ginebra coach Jong Uichico, however, gave Rudy enough time to work himself back into shape, as well as to familiarize himself both with the team's system and his new teammates.
Hatfield—who only scored two points in Ginebra's 100-98 victory against Rain or Shine—has made a reputation in the PBA as a relentless rebounder and competent scorer since his debut in the league in 1999 as part of the now defunct team, Tanduay Rhum Masters.
He was sidelined temporarily in 2004 after the Department of Justice (DOJ) revoked his license to play pro-basketball over citizenship issues. Rudy regained his license in 2005 and was instrumental in Barangay Ginebra's 2007 championship run.
Rudy's past involvement with sexy comedienne Rufa Mae Quinto made him also an instant showbiz celebrity. He appeared together with Rufa Mae in the 2004 comedy movie Masikip sa Dibdib and did commercials on the side even after their bitter breakup.
Time away from the limelight along with marriage has reportedly brought positive changes in the hardworking cager. He said in a 2009 interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), "When we decided to start our life as husband and wife in the U.S., she [Bethany] introduced me to this Christian group that she frequently attends called Megacity Ministries, Inc.
"I attended a few sessions with her and it somehow inspired me to open up and accept the Lord in my heart. I realized now that I was such a crazy person. I did things that I later realized were not really acceptable in life."