Locked doors be damned as Cebuano fans descend on Gilas practice to catch glimpse of idols
Calvin Abueva winces in pain after tweaking his right ankle in Gilas practice as rows of spectators - some getting in after breaking the locks in a back entrance - watches. Jonas Panerio

CEBU CITY – In the digital age, nothing can truly be hidden, said Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin - not China’s offensive sets, not Iran’s strengths and weaknesses.

And apparently, not even Gilas' supposedly 'closed-door' practices.

Try as they might to keep the team away from the prying eyes of the public, it was only a matter of time before a huge throng of Cebuanos descended upon the Hoopsdome in Lapu-Lapu City to catch a glimpse of their beloved hardcourt idols, locked doors be damned.

“May mga bata dito kanina, sinira 'yung lock ng dalawang doors sa bandang likod para lang makapasok at mapanood yung team,” said the team’s local liaison, Emil Alcoseba.

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Baldwin intended for the team to train in Cebu, not just to escape the daily rigors of traffic-snarled Metro Manila but to also give the players space to focus on new tweaks to their game plan heading to the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha, in the province of Hunan, China next week.

That was hardly the case on Wednesday night as rows of bleachers were filled with spectators.

The fans though, were the least of the team’s concerns on a day which saw wingman Matt Ganuelas-Rosser sit out practice due to the flu and Calvin Abueva suffer an injury scare.

“I’ve been staying in bed all day, just trying to get as much fluids in me as I can. They actually wanted me to stay at the hotel and just rest but I wanted to be here and observe the practice just so that I wouldn’t miss out on anything,” said Rosser, a 6-foot-5 two-guard out of Cal Poly Pomona.

Abueva tweaked his right ankle during a three-on-three drill that focused on improving the team’s pick and roll defense. The man known as the “Beast” sat out the second half of the evening’s practice session as he was attended to by the team’s medical staff.

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But the Gilas’ fourth practice session was not all setbacks as Baldwin took note of the team’s crisp defensive activity while shouting, “We’re making progress, people!”

The team’s 6-foot-11 naturalized player Andray Blatche also looked more mobile, scoring both inside and out during the scrimmage. The former Brooklyn Net showcased the agility that made him the second-leading scorer of the Fiba Basketball World Cup in 2014, breaking out the Euro step that led to a gorgeous lay-up as well as a corner triple that punctuated the brief scrimmage.


Gary David also made his first appearance in practice after arriving to join the team on Tuesday.

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