Scottie Thompson keeps showing upin practice with his right hand heavily-
wrapped. The reigning PBA MVP
will seek a second opinion when Gilas
planes back home with the World Cup
still six months away.

Scottie Thompson keeps showing up in practice with his right hand heavily- wrapped. The reigning PBA MVP will seek a second opinion when Gilas planes back home with the World Cup still six months away. —SBP PHOTO

Scottie Thompson’s broken right hand has put a dampener on Gilas Pilipinas’ Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup preparations in Europe, but national coach Chot Reyes assured that he and his staff are seeing a lot of good things come out of this setback.

Thompson, the reigning PBA Most Valuable Player, has been a picture of resilience throughout the ordeal and that, according to Reyes, is a testament to the Barangay Ginebra star’s leadership.

“A lot of [the training here] is about ‘role modeling’ and so if you see the guy who is most affected staying positive and upbeat as well? Obviously, it affects and it infects everybody else,” he said through a dispatch from Lithuania released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas on Friday. “Just being a real leader, I think Scottie has continued to stand up and show his leadership in that sense.”

It also shows how far the training pool has come when it comes to camaraderie, something Reyes has put high on his list before the team left.

“You can feel that energy, that vibe,” Reyes said of his intrepid bunch, which has been in the Baltic states since June 23. “That team spirit, that ‘esprit de corps’ is very, very important in anything.

“It’s increasing by the day and we hope to sustain that,” he added. “We just hope to continue.”

Last game

Gilas’ solidarity will be put to the test once again this Saturday 4 p.m. (Manila time) when the Nationals battle the leading squad from the Lithuanian Students Basketball League for its last tune-up game in Kaunas before leaving on Sunday.

The Philippines has won two of its five friendlies that include games against the national teams of Estonia, Finland and Ukraine.

Gilas is also eyeing a pocket tournament in China, where it hopes to play countries that play with styles similar to that of Angola, Italy and the Dominican Republic—three old tormentors the Philippines will take on as the Filipinos try to make it out of the group phase of the World Cup proper starting Aug. 25.

Reyes’ appreciation of Thompson’s attitude is also evident on his staff.

“First, as coaches, we had to show the players not just by words but [also through] energy, presence and vibe that it’s business as usual,” he said. “We acknowledge Scottie as a very big piece in what we do, but we needed to move forward.”

Gilas, indeed, has continued to plod along in the city of Kaunas, where it is bonding and priming itself for the global showcase set here 48 days from now. And much of that, Reyes pointed out, was also made possible by the players themselves.

“[Whenever] you give players a chance to voice out and air out what they’re thinking and feeling, it goes a long way in dissipating that kind of negative energy. [E]veryone was very upbeat and everyone continued to stay positive,” he said.

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