Gilas-Pilipinas starts Lithuania training stint
By Eddie Alinea
Mon, 03 Jun 2013
MANILA(PNA) -- By early evening today (Manila Time) the Gilas-Pilipinas national basketball training pool would have landed in
Klaipeda City in Lithuania to begin its rigid two-month preparations for the World Championship qualifying tournament FIBA-Asia Championship here in Manila this coming August 1-11.
No less than business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, president of the organizing Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, expressed hopes on the day of the aspirants’ departure yesterday that the expensive 16-day Lithuanian trip would produce the desired results towards forming a national team competitive enough to finish at least in the top three and make it to the World Championship next year in Spain.
“May Lithuania be a productive learning exercise for our national team,” Pangilinan, MVP to the sports and business sectors who also chairs the Local Organizing Committee of the FIBA-Asia meet, said in his pre-departure statement sent to this writer via text message.
“We (in the SBP) look forward to a successful FIBA-Asia Championship – there is hope always. Mabuhay! “ Pangilinan, who only a few days ago was retained as chair of the Alliance of Boxing Associations in the Philippines via acclamation, said. “Safe journey to our Smart Gilas team.”
The PH team hopefuls will, actually, attending a two-week long training camp set in the facilities of Svyturio Arena in Klaipeda starting Tuesday.
The camp, which according to head coach Chot Reyes is the begining of a “61-Day Trip to History,” will include a six-game exhibition cum goodwill series against three local commercial teams and that nation’s Under-20 national squad.
Training sessions consist of two parts daily, one in the morning confined in conditioning exercises and in the evening of actual basketball, according to team manager Butch Antonio.
The first to test the Filipinos’ basketball mettle is the Klaipedos Neptunas squad which Reyes' boys will meet on Wednesday, followed by skirmishes against Kaunas LSU-Baltai on June 7. Another matchup against Birstono Jazz Diremta on June 7 precedes the Nationals’ two-game confrontation versus the Lithuanian Under-20 Selection on June 11 and June 13.
The Nationals windup their six-game goodwill games in a return match with Kaunas LSU-Baltai on June 15, eve of their departure back to Manila.
Reyes said chances are that the final composition of the team could be decided in this trip depending on how his players will respond to the rigors of the training regiment they will undergo in the camp and their performance in the six-game tuneup games.
“Definitely, preparations kick into high gear (in this trip) which to me is the ‘61-Day Trip to History’. Reyes said after a two-hour workout in the final day of a two-week training sessions Thursday at The Arena in San Juan City. “We will learn a lot about ourselves in this trip.”
SBP chair and newly-elected ABAP president Ricky Vargas, MVP’s long-time in sports development, shares his boss’ sentiment saying the trip allows pool members chance to bond together, know each other, work together and strengthen their hearts to play for country.”
“Stay safe, work hard and learn not only from others but gain trust from each other,” he advised. “Mabuhay kayong lahat for accepting to represent the country.”
Team manager Butch Antonio, for his part, said he’s been looking forward for this trip, which he said, will pave the way for the formation of a solid unit to carry the country’s colors in the FIBA-Asia campaign in a sentiment shared by SBP executive director Sonny Barrios.
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