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Smart Gilas
#3
part 2 of rick olivares' magnum opus on smart gilas..... Smile

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Fundamental Truths


Quote:Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Fundamental Truths

[Image: Impact+Camp.JPG]

The Joe Abunassar Impact Camp in Las Vegas March 2009. This story appears in the Wednesday March 10 edition of the Business Mirror.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One

Part 2 The Fundamental Truths

by rick olivares

When Smart Gilas Pilipinas arrived in the Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade, Serbia in March of 2009, they went there to learn first hand the kind of motion offense that Rajko Toroman was preaching to them. It was one thing to be taught the system but it was altogether a different experience to see it executed by the masters of Euroball.

By the end of the trip, two incidents, would impact the team in its formation and in the future.

The first came almost immediately -- at immigration.

The duty officer inquired about their business in Serbia. For the players, it was obvious they were in the business of basketball. With the coaching staff, after Toroman, he seemed incredulous about the veracity of assistants Allan Gregorio, Jude Roque, and Djalma Arnedo. “You’re basketball coaches?” he asked in a disbelieving tone. The officer wasn’t being punked, Toroman assured, and the officer stamped their travel papers with a wry smile and a shake of the head.

It was a funny moment and the incident became a staple of in-house jokes. But it gnawed at SBP Executive Director Noli Eala.

During the formation of Gilas, some of those who first came on board initially offered their services for free. The lure of the national team is universal but what also made the venture particularly very attractive was the fact that business tycoon and SBP President Manuel V. Pangilinan was backing it.

Toroman wasn’t keen on having too many assistants after all he got along fine by his lonesome when he coached Iran. But the Islamic Republic and the Philippine Republic are both literally and figuratively oceans apart.

In Iran, his players were obligated to follow his orders after all, they were military conscripts as well. Toroman could amazingly recite the statistics of Mark Caguioa and Asi Taulava among others and offer a detailed scouting report on the RP-San Mig team he faced in Tokushima in 2007. But that was it. He didn’t know anything more. Gregorio and the others were to be the liaison not just to local players but his guides to Philippine culture.

In a team, there can only be one voice. It is no different from others. When Joel Banal was coaching the Ateneo Blue Eagles, he had one rule – it was his voice, only his, that will be heard in the huddle. The same applied to Gilas; you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. The assistants, maybe not even the most accomplished in the land, were there to complement Toroman who knew the international game inside and out. And it was his system.

Gilas’ initial foray into international competition in Guangxi was successful although the level of competition wasn’t very good. In Belgrade, they got a close up look at perhaps the best place for basketball outside continental USA. More than a drubbing, the team was given a clinic on the finer points of the play that Toroman espoused: continuous motion, ball movement, flawless execution, and a no-star system.

Assistant Coach Jude Roque after a while stopped watching his own team to marvel the Serbs’ skill. “You could see even the stars of the other teams doing the dirty work such as setting screens, inbounding the ball, playing help defense. It was impressive. Iba talaga sa larong local.”

After the initial drubbing by Metalac Valjevo, Gilas began to play better. But the second realization was painfully obvious -- they needed someone to rebound for them. Jason Ballesteros, Aldrech Ramos, and Greg Slaughter were game but wanting in height, heft, and speed. What they needed was someone to turn the shaded lane into a no-fly zone, hence the importance of selecting an import to be naturalized as it was allowed by FIBA.

When the team returned home, SBP and Gilas officials first took a look at Chris Taft. The 6’10” Taft, a former Pittsburgh Panther, never suited up for the team. Team officials were concerned with his back that eventually forced him out of the NBA after playing for the Golden State Warriors.

The team then flew to Las Vegas to train at the Joe Abunassar Impact Camp. The trip was three-fold in its objectives – to learn once more from a respected training camp, to bond, and to get a first-hand look at about a dozen Fil-foreigners who were invited to try out. It was here where they first met up with Marshall University’s Chris Lutz, a 6’3” guard, McGill University’s Sean Anthony, a 6’4” shooting guard, and former Los Angeles Lakers draftee Chester Jarrel Giles, a 6’10” jumping jack with an incredible wingspan.

Giles, despite having a swirl of controversy surrounding him during his college days, was impressive. SBP Executive Director Noli Eala conducted a background check and surprisingly got positive reviews. “He’s a good kid who got a bad rap,” was the general consensus.

The Seattle native quickly bonded with the nationals. Although team officials noted his propensity for the party life, they quickly dismissed it as a potential problem. “We were in Las Vegas. That’s a party place.” added Roque. “So what’s a guy to do?”

Giles also seemed eager to cast his lot in the Philippines even if he was still hoping to make an NBA roster. “I won’t lie,” he related during the FIBA Champions Challenge Cup in Jakarta where Gilas competed in May of 2009. “The dream is the NBA. But that’s the dream of so many others. Who knows, if I do good in the Philippines, I just might get my shot at the NBA.”

The team pronounced themselves happy with Giles.

Nine months later, the team’s main problems that threatened to tear them asunder were all import related.

--------------

If you're wondering why Part 2 is short, it's because of the space constraints of the newspaper. Even if cyberspace is a different medium, I'd still like to have it the same except when it overly edited then I'd post it here the way I want to. Again it's really long but I figure the other stuff should just be saved for a rainy day. For this series, I am not going to repeat what I previously wrote about the team except if needed to highlight certain matters. I've been talking to a few colleagues of mine about writing the proper book of Gilas. But that will have to come after the whole thing is done. That way, it's more complete and well, fire in the hole! Watch out for the rest of the six-part series:

Part 3 The First Test

Part 4 The Skids

Part 5 The Gulf War

Part 6 The Next Stage

My first ever on Gilas during the team launch at Promenade in Greenhills. http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...-team.html

The three-part series that ran in Biz Mirror before the team left for Jakarta for the FIBA Champions Cup. Read it in descending order. To follow that FIBA campaign, click on May 2009 in the Archives section of the lower left side.

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...minds.html

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...coach.html

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...-team.html

Posted by Rick Olivares
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Smart Gilas - by patay-butiki - 03-03-2010, 06:50 PM
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