CHANGSHA, China – Even in the middle of battle, Alaska found a way to meet up and personally make a quick visit to team members currently with the Gilas Pilipinas team seeing action in the Fiba Asia Championship.
Tasked by team owner Wilfred Uytengsu to see coach Alex Compton and players Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, and Dondon Hontiveros were team manager and board of governor Dickie Bachmann and the owner's son Sean Uytengsu, who came over here along with the PBA board led by chairman Robert Non and president and CEO Chito Salud to lend support to the national team’s quest for a berth in the 2016 Olympics.
The two Alaska officials however, even went out of their way to have dinner and have a short chat with the Aces family following Gilas’ two-hour practice on a rainy Wednesday night.
“For the players to see him (Sean) here, it’s big for them cause it’s a show of support,” said Bachmann of Sean, the second son of the Alaska team owner, who joined the Alaska family in partaking mostly fried beef and fried rice inside the hotel restaurant that houses all participating teams.
“The first thing Alex told me is that they want food,” said Bachmann as most of the players have had enough of Chinese dishes.
“Kuwentuhan lang, we talked about the team, yung mga kalokohan. It was fun.”
Bachmann said coach Alex and the three Alaska players are all happy and excited to be part of a Gilas team that has a very good shot at clinching the berth at stake here for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
More importantly, the experience of playing for the national team and getting a feel of international basketball is expected to help the Aces in their PBA campaign in the long run.
“I think one thing for Alex is he said, ‘I’m here to learn from the coaching staff of Gilas,’ so that’s a plus for us also. For the players, for Calvin it’s the added confidence of playing international,” said the Alaska executive.
“For Sonny, also is basically getting his form back, and Dondon, everyone knows Dondon. He’s there, he’s helping, he’s playing big games for Gilas.”
For his part, the 26-year-old Uytengsu described the Alaska players’ Gilas stint as an ‘eye-opener.’
“It’s been very eye-opening able to come and see this Fiba tournament, especially with Dickie seeing the players, which was very interesting outside the Gilas team because we’re used to the Alaska program,” the young Uytengsu said.
“I think it helped them as much as it helped us getting to know more of them.”