Known as the Alaminos Assassin for his three-point shooting, he played for the NU Bulldogs in the UAAP and the Red Bull Barako both in their Philippine Basketball League and PBA stints before being traded to San Miguel in October 2006.
He later join the Red Bull Energy Drink squad in the Philippine Basketball League with Ildefonso and later Junthy Valenzuela, Jimwell Torion, Davonn Harp and Kerby Raymundo. Still, Red Bull failed to win a single title in the PBL.
He played a limited role during his first three seasons in the league and was instrumental in Red Bull's two title victories in the 2001 and 2002 Commissioners Cup tournament's.
By the 2004-05 season, Tugade's role increased after the franchise retooled its lineup following losses to Davonn Harp, Willie Miller and, for a while, Mick Pennisi. Along with Enrico Villanueva both led Red Bull to a surprising semifinals appearance in the 2005 Fiesta Conference.
At the 2005-2006 Fiesta Conference, through the effort of Tugade, Villanueva, the return of Mick Pennisi, the acquisition of rookie shooting guard Larry Fonacier, the much-suited import James Penny, and the other tough players from the team, Red Bull won the Fiesta Conference crown and the club's first title in four years. In Game 2 against the Purefoods Chunkee Giants, Tugade outscored all locals with 30 points before eventually winning the championship. He was named the Finals Most Valuable Player for the first time in his PBA career.
The next conference, Tugade avaerged 56.7 percent from the three-point distance, the highest of his career and became the league's leading three-point shooter during the 2006 Philippine Cup. The Bulls made it to the finals but lost to Purefoods in six games. At the end of thes season, he ranked fourth in the MVP race and became part of the First Mythical Team selection for the first time in his career.
With a strong lineup, Tugade played a limited role for the Beermen as he was still recuperating from his injury while sharing minutes with Danny Seigle, Chris Calaguio and Dondon Hontiveros. He did posted significant numbers for San Miguel during their long eight-game winning streak.