FIL-AUSSIE Ethan Kirkness is back in the country to train with Batang Gilas, unmindful of the weight of expectations that rests on his shoulders as one of the top prospects of Philippine basketball.
The 14-year-old is in town for a six-week long training program as he is being groomed to play for Batang Gilas in future international junior competitions.
A lot of expectations naturally fall on Kirkness, who at 6-foot-9 is seen as one of the top big man prodigies who could help lift Philippine basketball to new heights in the future.
The Fil-Australian is aware of those expectations - and embraces them.
“Definitely,” said Kirkness, when asked if he feels any pressure on being part of Batang Gilas. “Even if I wasn’t tall, there is pressure. But I just take it one step at a time.”
Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) took advantage of Kirkness' school vacation in Australia to give him time to train with his teammates.
“He is here for six weeks of intensive training,” said Teh. “Vacation time naman sa Australia so we asked them to come over so we can escalate his training program.”
Kirkness showed up for the Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC) games on Thursday where he was able to witness firsthand what Philippine high school basketball is all about.
This early, Kirkness is already seeing the difference of Philippine basketball from back home.
“It’s fast. It’s more intense here, I guess,” said Kirkness.
The Gold Coast, Queensland native said he is also seeing how the Philippine basketball scene is very active even at the high school level.
“It’s not as big as here,” said Kirkness, when asked to compare basketball here in the Philippines to Australia. “It is really taken seriously, I guess.”
Kirkness said he is also looking forward to the six-week training as it is an opportunity for him to improve in all aspects of his game.
“I think just everything in general, I want to be better on what I do. That can be, working on the post or around the perimeter. It doesn’t really matter to me, as long as I’m getting better. I really want to improve. Hopefully, being here in six weeks will help my journey,” said Kirkness.
“I just expect to be better, fitter, [better] IQ. Just work on the little things,” he added.