Nostalgia hits in Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice for SEA Games
Nostalgia filled the air when the Philippine team pool convened for its first practice Monday night.
Head coach Tim Cone felt he was transported back to 21 years ago at a time when he last called the shots for the national team while veteran point guards Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio were reunited with former Gilas Pilipinas captain turned coach Jimmy Alapag like it was 2014.
“It’s just brings back so many memories from 1998 for me. Walking into a room with those 15 great players, all superstars, except for maybe Art (dela Cruz) because he’s part of the Ginebra core but basically, they’re all superstars,” Cone told reporters after wrapping up practice at Meralco Gym.
“Just being around them having the opportunity to interact with them, I see them from a distance so much, we plan against them, we watch them on video we know their weaknesses and strengths but we don’t really get a chance to talk and get to know them and it’s a completely different light so that to me was the biggest impact which is being in a room,” added Cone, whose previous stint coaching the national team was in 1998 when he steered the Philippine Centennial Team to a bronze-medal finish in the Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
Castro, Tenorio and Alapag, who were all vital pieces of the Gilas Pilipinas team that competed in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain, didn’t waste anytime catching up with each other as they huddled on one corner of the gym just shortly after practice ended.
“I never imagined that we’re all going to be together here because the only times we get to see one another is outside of basketball. The memories came back as soon as we arrived for practice,” Castro, who cut his retirement from the national team short to be part of the 15-man national team pool for the Southeast Asian Games.
Of the 15 players on the pool, only San Miguel Beer star June Mar Fajardo was absent while two other Beermen in Christian Standhardinger and Marcio Lassiter were in attendance but did not participate due to injuries.
Cone said Fajardo missed first day of training due to an “ankle issue.”
With limited number of practices, the team immediately went down to work with Cone putting a premium on teaching the basics of the kind of system he has in place.
“Right now we spent most of our time talking because we didn’t have a lot of court time so we just ran some basic offense, basic defense so we’re gonna continue to do that and try to build a foundation and build from there,” he said.
“The key is to impart my knowledge to these guys and make sure we’re all on the same page and we’re all playing the same way and that is the challenge that we have. That’s why I keep talking about teaching and learning which is the key. Really for us it’s really about the mental stuff. The teaching, the learning and that’s the focus.”
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