NBA Playoffs and beyond
EVERY POUND COUNTS - Alan Choachoy (The Freeman) - April 26, 2014 - 12:00am

The NBA Playoffs started last Monday and as far as I could remember, the Playoffs is considered as one of the longest reality TV show. The NBA is one of toughest professional sports in terms of game schedules, practice, and travel. It is a survival of the fittest and a true test of strength, endurance and fitness level of each athlete. In the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away season games over six months plus traveling to a road game some would have to endure as much eight-game roads trip in different states and cities across the United States  and Toronto, Canada.               

Not so long ago, preparing for a game was as easy as picking a ball then shoot,  pass, dribble and play hoops.  But now, to be a good a basketball player, aside from having innate skills or talents, you need  hardwork to be fit.  It requires very high level of cardiovascular fitness so   you will not be outrun by the opposing team. And also one has to have muscular fitness and strength. You might not be able to run after the smaller players, but when you are fighting for a rebound or a loose ball, strength matters. Upper body strength is essential in pulling or grabbing a rebound. Basketball mainly focuses on lower body strength.  The importance of core and upper body strength are essential and base exercise to improve the core and upper body strengths are simple as doing pushup, pull up and planking.

One of the most common injuries among basketball players is ankle sprain. Most of the players often forget how to train to make their ankles stronger. Most ankle injuries involve inversion or rolling inward of the ankles. Another common injury of players is the knee.  Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament  are common.  Prevention is better than cure so to help a player prevent knee injuries, a base exercise in strengthening the quadriceps, hamstring will help stabilize the lower extremities and provide support during cutting, running and landing. As simple as body weight squats, lunges and single leg squat would go a long way if properly executed.

Going back to the NBA Playoffs, most of the teams have split their games as of this writing. That means one factor that will help the team win the championship will be based on the fitness level and health of each player. Losing a key player at this point of time is like losing the playoff. As of now, the Miami Heat is having a hard time beating the Charlotte Bobcats mainly because of Al Jefferson, but sad to say Al is suffering from foot injuries and is not playing 100 percent. Plantar facility is really a painful injury. The Golden State Warrior's Andrew Bogut is still out indefinitely in the playoffs. The future of this team will be determined if he gets back and play.  Last year, the OKC Thunder led by Kevin Durant lost steam in their playoff run when one of the starting guard Russel Westbrook injured his knees.  The San Antonio Spurs last year look old when the championship series went to its full seven-game route against the Heat. It was  one painful moment for me because I was rooting for Tim Duncan.

As a fan, I have three teams that I want to go all the way and win a championship. First on my list is the San Antonio Spurs because of the aging Tim Duncan.  I want him to go out in style and win a championship before retiring. Second is the OKC Thunder.  I am a big fan of KD in the same way with my two sons. Third is the Indiana Pacers. The fact that they started their playoff run last year without their superstar and ended up discovering three new stars in Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West is something that should be taken account into.

But as sportswriter, my fearless prediction is that the Miami Heat will snare this year's NBA title. Sorry to haters of Lebron James. I am not a fan of King James, but he is just above the rest in terms of skills, fitness level and most of all, he has learned how to lead a team and has a mindset of never giving up.

Sideline: Good luck to our first ever Filipino Pro Xterra triathlete Joseph Miller, who will be competing this weekend in the Xterra World Championship under Team Allen led by two-time Xterra Philippines champion Ben Allen.

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