’09 PH team holdovers banking on bond, familiarity to overcome short Asiad prep

Gabe Norwood and Asi Taulava are set to represent the country together again in an international tournament under coach Yeng Guiao.

Both players, who were members of the Powerade-Team Pilipinas squad that finished eighth in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship, were named to the final 12-man roster for the Asian Games in Indonesia.

For Norwood, their growth between the nine-year gap isn’t the only thing that’s different this time around.

“The chemistry and the atmosphere is a little bit… I wouldn’t say lighter, but there’s familiarity within everybody and it shows in the court and in how we prepare,” Gabe Norwood told FOX Sports PH during a Smart-backed practice on Friday at the Meralco Gym.

“It has a very, very high intake of Rain or Shine so it feels like almost like an extension of what we do, from the way we practice and even with the many years that we had coach Yeng [Guiao] with us,” he added.

It often seemed like that Philippine team in 2009 didn’t mesh well on court. Despite overflowing with talent — the team had James Yap, Willie Miller, Jayjay Helterbrand, Sonny Thoss, Mick Pennisi, Arwind Santos, Jared Dillinger, Cyrus Baguio, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo and Ryan Reyes, along with Norwood and Taulava — they tallied more losses than wins (4-5) and ended their campaign with dispiriting losses to Qatar and Korea.

Taulava, learning from that experience, is careful of a possible disconnect cropping up and asserted that such won’t happen on his watch.

“The team has to be a family in this journey that we’re on. If guys are trying to avoid each other, our chemistry won’t be good. We had that in 2009, where the team wasn’t really super close. This time, we won’t make that mistake,” Taulava opened to FOX PH.

“We’re bringing everybody together. If a guy goes away, we pull him to the group and make sure that we stick together in the next two to three weeks.”

The team will fly to Jakarta on Sunday. They are pooled with China and Kazakhstan in Group D.

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