Although Gilas Pilipinas’ practice may just be once-a-week for the 1st 4 and a half months this year, Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio said the presence of several amateur standouts infuses speed and youthful exuberance, which will be beneficial for the national pool in the long run.
Two-time UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer and Far Eastern University’s outgoing stars Mac Belo, Russell Escoto and Roger Pogoy have joined Gilas’ once-a-week practice at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.
Last Monday, Arellano Chiefs playmaker Jio Jalalon made his appearance at the Gilas practice for the first time, a welcome sight according to Tenorio.
“Ang bibilis ng mga bata and definitely, malaking tulong sila sa aming mga beterano,” Tenorio told FOX Sports.
The 5-foot-10 Ginebra sentinel said the ongoing PBA season is already a big load to carry for the pros, but then again, Ravena and Co,’s presence gives them the extra motivation to work hard in practice.
“Para kasing nagko-kontra yung experience namin sa bilis nila,” he said.
“But more than anything, magiging beneficial din yung practice sa kanila dahil nakakalaro nila mga experienced players.”
Tenorio explained that even with the tight basketball schedule, the healthy members of the Gilas pool make sure they go all-out in practice since the Manila leg of Fiba Olympic Qualifying tournament is just around the corner.
“Sabi nga ni coach Tab (Baldwin), mabilis na lang iyan tapos nandun na kami sa qualifier kaya full practice na rin kami talaga at all-out na rin kasi yun na lang ang opportunity naming mag-practice,” shared the 31-year-old Tenorio.
So far, Tropang TNT’s Jayson Castro (right Achilles) and GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo (calf muscle) missed Monday’s practice due to injuries.
If given a choice, the 1-time PBA Best Player said he wants to be part of the final 12 that will compete in the OQT, and hopefully, help the country make history by punching a ticket to this year’s Rio Olympics.
“Siyempre, gusto ko ding mapasama sa Gilas. Wala kasi ako last time, pero gusto ko bumalik after sa nangyari,” he said, citing the missed opportunity he had with Gilas last year when he decided to forego a stint at the 2015 William Jones Cup and the Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Changsa, China.
The Philippines’ last Olympic stint in basketball happened in 1972 in Munich, Germany in a national squad that was bannered by Bogs Adornado, Narciso Bernardo, Ed Ocampo, Tembong Melencio, Jimmy Mariano and Freddie Webb. – By Richard Dy
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