Batang Gilas head coach Mike Oliver during the team's homecoming dinner at a hotel in Ortigas, Tuesday night.
Contributed Photo/Joaqui Flores via Bounty Sports
Batang Gilas coach happy to have delivered despite lack of time
Denison Rey A. Dalupang (Philstar.com) - April 11, 2018 - 5:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Batang Gilas lead mentor Mike Oliver is glad to have eked out success from a squad he was able to put together on short notice.

And it’s a no-brainer he would have wanted more time to prepare as they embark on another quest that is the FIBA Under-17 World Cup.

Just like their senior counterpart, Batang Gilas grappled with time constraints in their preparation for the FIBA Asia Under-16 tournament in China. Oliver and the youngsters finished fourth in the week-long tournament, without a medal, but they were able to punch the country’s second trip to the global skirmish, which unfolds in Argentina this June.

“Hindi naging madali kasi limited lang ang preparation time namin,” Oliver offered during the team’s homecoming at Crowne Plaza hotel in Ortigas, Tuesday night. “Nakumpleto lang kami halos one week bago tayo umalis papunta sa China. Pagdating natin doon, doon na sila halos nagkakila-kilala. OK naman at naging maayos ang result natin.”

“Siyempre, during the time na fino-form natin (‘yung team), at noong malapit na ang competition, nahirapan tayo,” he admitted. “’Yun yung isa nating worry nun bago tayo umalis eh.”

“But I’m happy with the result,” Oliver said. “At least eh na-accomplish natin ‘yung gusto natin… Mabuti na lang, kahit papaano, maagang nag-jell yung mga bata. Naging maayos ‘yung mga performance nila sa FIBA Asia.

With a window of roughly two weeks to work, Oliver managed to form a crew of youngsters that went on to compile a record of three wins and three losses. And while this seems to eerily resemble the rigors that the national teams usually deal with every time they head for an international tournament, the tactician offered some perspective.

“Different positions lang tayo with [the senior team] kasi we’re talking about (professional) players na eh,” Oliver shared. “Kahit sabihin mo, mabigyan sila ng limited time to prepare, ‘di mo na gaano kailangang i-develop pa ‘yung skills unlike sa U-16.”

“Sometimes ‘yung makukuha mong player ‘di pa nakapaglaro ng UAAP,” he continued. “Although may talent, ipa-polish mo pa ‘yung skills, i-dedevelop mo. Imbes na direkta ka na sa system na gusto mong itakbo, magbibigay ka pa ng time para [i-polish ang] skills.”

“Unlike sa Gilas, pagdating doon, system na sila agad. ‘Yung two hours of practice nila, more on system na right away,” Oliver pointed out.

Personnel woes in the seniors level usually concern the national team player’s commitment with his PBA club. At times, a team is still competing deep in the playoffs when a Gilas call-up is made. Head coach Reyes is dealt with this card many times over in the past.  For his part, the veteran tactician has made ends meet with the working time he was given. But he has remained steady with his please for more time to put a squad together in the hope of building better chemistry among his players.

In Oliver and Batang Gilas’ case, the scheduling can present in the form of the UAAP schedule and the actual academic year cycle.

“Ang magiging conflict lang naman nating diyan, normally, is the NCAA’s (schedule) eh. Kasi ‘yung UAAP naman, nag-adjust na ng tournament schedules nila. ‘Yun talaga yung panahon na laging tinatamaan eh. ‘Yan ‘yung panahon ng FIBA Asia.”

“If ever na magkaroon ng calling uli yung mga bata, [sana] mapayagan natin. Kasi siyempre di naman basta-basta mahahatak ‘yan from school, kasi may investment sila sa bata. At the same time, yung bata, may tungkulin sa school,” he said.

BASKETBALL BATANG GILAS MIKE OLIVER
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