BEST and FunDamentals

BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - May 12, 2019 - 12:00am

Every summer for the past eleven years, we have had the opportunity to organize the Milo Summer Sports Clinic’s BEST Center basketball clinic backed by Milo. Pardon the obvious bias for now, but it’s a bias for the kind of clinics that are needed by the basketball segment if we really want to produce good, sound, technical players. It’s all about the basics.

When people ask me about basketball camps for their children, the impression that I always get is that they want their children to be game-ready to play for a team in a tournament setting. They want that fast-track approach to player development. Is this wrong? Not at all. But is there a better way to do it? A big Yes. Let’s face it. Only a few talented players can easily make it to the competitive level based on pure talent that’s naturally gifted to them. The problem is that not all players are like them. There will only be one Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. Beyond them, we are all ordinary “mortals” in the basketball world who need to learn the basics and fundamentals and learn this through the proper process. Yes. Trust the process (please). In any sport, there are two types of clinics or camps. The more popular one is that which is designed to establish a team for competition. This is where the team looks only for the best talent available to make the team competitive. They’re looking for ready-to-play talents whose basics are already set (or so they think and assume). Let’s call this the elite-level type of camp or clinic.

The other type of clinic is one that teaches the athlete nothing but the basics of the game. There is no intention to establish a team for tournament play or guaranty overnight success stories among its students. The approach is more long term, and heavy on the learning process of the fundamentals of the sport. By doing this, players will eventually be ready to play for a team in competitive play but it won’t happen overnight. At the BEST Center clinics, only the fundamentals are taught with a touch of “fun”, discipline and camaraderie. One of the criticisms that some have against the BEST Center is that all they do are drills with the basketball for ball-handling. While this is partly true, it is what it is. Basketball is a sport that requires one to master ball-handling to a perfection. Thus, the fourteen ball-handing drills need to be mastered as these are measures of how well one can handle the ball. But these aren’t secret drills. Have you seen the ball-handling drills that Step Curry does when he warms up before a game? Who would’ve thought that Steph Curry would still be doing ball-handling drills that are common at clinics for the basics? Even the best get even better and keep on doing drills that beginners actually do. Moreover, those critics don’t get to see the other drills that are done to help one’s agility, speed, movement, passing and communication, all key and basic elements needed for basketball player.

The hallmark of a program are its products. Established in 1978, the BEST Center has its footprints all over basketball. Did you know that the Ravena brothers have gone beyond the four levels of the BEST Center program? The father-and-sons tandem of Benjie, Andre and Kobe Paras also attended clinics of the BEST Center. And so did hundreds, even thousands of players in the 41 years of the BEST Center’s existence.

And so this year, the BEST Center clinic for Cebu ended yesterday with another set of students learning the basics. Under the watch of Coaches Marichu Bacaro, Esjay Urquico, Earl Gutierrez and Mikko Bouffard, we four levels conducted: Preparatory, Levels 1, 2 and 3. Among the students were a nice mix of newbies to the sport and those who’ve been playing already. But they all learned the same things: everything from the regular warm-up routine, agility/speed drills, movement without the ball, passing and yes, ball-handling. Shooting and defense were given more attention in Levels 2 and 3, respectively. Being a school for the sport, there were homeworks, worksheets, assessment, class pictures and yes, even a “final exam” plus a “report card.” And on graduation day yesterday, it was all fun in a mini tournament, fun games for parents/guardians and the distribution of Certificates.

We didn’t set to produce all-star players; just taught the students the basics in an atmosphere of fun, discipline and camaraderie. We hope we have helped them become better persons in this short period. Congrats to all the students. Thanks to Coaches Chu, Esjay, Earl and Mikko, and to all the parents who have support the Cebu program from 2008 til today. Til the next clinic of the BEST Center and Milo, be the BEST!


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