Former Gilas vets raring to test new national squad, help preparations in PBA All-Star games

April 24, 2017 - 1:36 AM
PBA Media Bureau

The Philippine national men’s basketball team is preparing hard for the 2017 SEABA Men’s Championship and PBA All-Star Week is part of the road headed there.

Some of the former members of Gilas Pilipinas who will be part of the festivities are already raring to give the new national team a taste of the international experience.

Ranidel De Ocampo and LA Tenorio, who were both part of the Gilas squad that finished second in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and put the country back on the world stage, will both be suiting up for the Luzon team that will take on the national squad on April 28 in Lucena.

“Syempre kaming mga PBA players, sa Luzon team, ibibigay namin yung best namin kapag kalaban namin yung Gilas,” De Ocampo told InterAksyon.

“Kasi ganun yung mangyayari sa kanila kapag kalaban na nila yung ibang bansa. Walang mag-re-relax na kalaban. Walang nag-pe-petiks. Lahat go hard. Yun ang gagawin namin. Magsisipag kami sa game. Gusto naming masanay sila sa laban na mahirap. Kailangang paghirapan nila.”

Tenorio agreed with De Ocampo when it comes to the competitive nature of the coming All-Star Games, which is designed to help prepare Gilas for the SEABA tilt to be held from May 12 to 18.

But the veteran guard also believes the All-Star competition is primarily for the fans and he intends to entertain them as expected.

“Katulad nung dati nung part ako ng Gilas, it’s a great opportunity for PBA fans na makita for the first time this year yung bagong team ng Gilas to play against a PBA selection,” Tenorio said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to help the Gilas team to prepare for the SEABA. It’s a win-win situation for the PBA and Gilas. This All-Star Game is number one, for the fans naman talaga. So yun yung main goal ng All-Star Game. Hopefully, mag-enjoy lahat.”

Both Tenorio and his Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who will be handling the Visayas team in the Cebu leg of All-Star Week, believe this will be a different kind of All-Star Game.

“It’s not gonna be your typical All-Star Game. Siguro, sa simula, enjoy-enjoy. For Gilas, kasi the main purpose is to prepare. Yun lang yung opportunity nila to play tune-up games together. They will grab the opportunity and kami rin na maglalaro sa PBA All-Star Game, gusto rin namin silang tulungan. Ganun naman talaga dapat,” said Tenorio.

“My thrust is we’re gonna be there for a purpose and this is what I’m gonna go with our team,” said Cone, who himself has been the national team coach for the ‘Centennial Team’ in the Asian Games in the past. “This is our approach. It’s not an All-Star Game in our minds, but we’re there for a purpose to get the national team ready.”

“I expect our guys to play hard and take it seriously. That’s the beauty of this kind of All-Star Game. I’ve never been a fan of All-Star teams because they always kinda fool around, but because you’re doing something for the national interest, it makes this one exciting. How much we can get this done in just one day, in one practice in terms of running our offense and defense, I don’t know. But we have talent, and we will do the best of our abilities against them.”

De Ocampo, meanwhile, is hoping he can get the chance to help the national team, even outside the confines of the All-Star Game.

“Hindi naman nawawala yung puso ko sa Gilas eh. Kahit hindi ako kasali doon, yung ganitong time, yung ganitong maging part ka na matulungan sila sa pakikipaglaro sa kanila, proud pa rin ako roon,” the Gilas veteran added.

“Siyempre kahit naman sa ibang paraan kung may time akong makadalaw sa practice, makapagbigay ako ng advice, pwede kong gawin.”