Van Opstal back in action after a year off
Out of action for almost a year, Arnold Van Opstal is aching to get back to the grind and help Gilas Pilipinas compete in the 2016 Fiba Asia Challenge Cup in Iran from Sept. 9-18.
“I’ve been gone for a year. I was travelling a lot and I went to the States to train and gain weight. Now, I’m back here and my focus on Gilas. That’s my next stop,” Van Opstal said.
Van Opstal returned to the country on Monday and attended his first practice session as part of the national team pool on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-7 center Van Opstal shared that he had to deal with an Achilles injury during his layoff which gave him a chance to explore the world while recuperating. But that vacation is long over, as he returned to the court in March and has been in stringent training ever since.
“It was like six months without basketball and cleared my mind,” he said.
Now, Van Opstal is elated to share the court with familiar faces and former rivals.
“All of these guys like Fonso (Gotladera) and the FEU boys, we grew up playing with each other from high school. It just feels good and the vibe’s very positive. It really gets your game going because there’s no rivalry, no jealousy. Everyone wants to see one another get better. The college days are kind of done,” he said.
Though the former La Salle slotman’s addition to the pool is definitely a welcome sight, Reyes noted that Van Opstal still needs a lot of work to get back to his old form.
“He still has to get in shape,” Reyes said, not guaranteeing any roster spots for the Fil-German in the 12-man roster. “Again, like with everything else, it’s a matter of availability. These are the bigs who are available for us right now and who want to play and they’re fighting for a spot. We are rolling with these guys.”
Meanwhile, Van Opstal is just keeping a positive vibe with this career move to try his luck and hopefully, be a part of the next iteration of Gilas Pilipinas.
“If everything works out, this will be a full-time commitment. I’m blessed to do this,” he said. “It’s a big commitment to represent the country, but also I have to be patient with myself knowing that I’ve been gone and I want to do my best and my best is the only thing I can do. There’s no point in worrying about something that is beyond my control.”