THEY arrived at the Titan Trial Run wearing a variety of sneakers that included Jordans, Kobes, Pennys, KDs and Nike running shoes.
But once they stepped inside the Treston College gym, professional and collegiate basketball players along with select media exchanged their footwear to try out the latest signature product from Nike - the Kyrie 1.
Among the athletes in attendance were PBA notables Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Jayson Castro, Mark Barroca, Gabe Norwood, Kevin Alas, Joe Devance, Mike Cortez and a surprisingly blonde Marc Pingris. Also on hand were some college players led by Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena as well as actor and hoops junkie Rayver Cruz.
Launched in August, 2014, the Titan Trial Runs program was created to serve as a platform for both athletes and consumers to test and experience the latest innovations in basketball footwear. It was led by Titan co-owner Jeffrey Cariaso and his former assistant coach Olsen Racela.
All of the participants were issued kit from Nike Philippines that included a pair of Kyrie 1s in Deceptive Red colorway; a wine and gold Titan Trial t-shirt; a pair of day-glo green Dri-Fit basketball shorts and Hyper Elite socks.
Prior to going on the court, EKIN product specialist Andro Torres provided a brief background and history of the Kyrie 1.
Australian-born Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the newest addition to Nike’s signature athletes. Irving was the 2012 Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and MVP of the 2014 Fiba World Cup.
“The great thing about this shoe is it’s something we haven’t done in a signature shoe in a while - a shoe specific to the play of a point guard,” said Andro Torres, EKIN product specialist.
"The thing to watch out for this shoe is it’s a really flexible shoe - there’s a lot of flexibility in the midsole. It’s a really light package - we have a mesh upper and the best thing in a signature athlete shoes are the personal touches," said Torres.
To make the Cavaliers star's shoes distinct, embedded in the shoe are athlete-specific logos, his “Be You” motto and design inspirations that include the Sydney Opera House - a nod to Irving’s country of birth.
On the court the participants - and their Kyrie 1s - were subjected to a series of drills followed by several full-court games.
Some highlights of the event were Pingris playing point guard, Kiefer Ravena and his repeated dunk attempts and Rayver Cruz messing around with LA Tenorio that was punctuated by a hard drive to the basket followed by good-natured ribbing and catcalls from those present.
After the two-hour trial was over, SPIN asked two guards who built their on-court reputation on speed and mobility - Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena and Purefoods stalwart Mark Barroca on what they thought about the new shoes.
“Magaan siya. Akala ko kanina naka-tsinelas ako e! Makapit siya, yung sole niya sobrang lambot, masarap sa paa itakbo,” said the cat-quick Barroca who prefers light and comfortable shoes such as the Hyperdunk and the Hyperquickness.
Collegiate star Ravena praised the Kyrie 1, explaining it was a shoe that complements his playing style.
“Yung una I was like, ‘Wow! Sobrang gaan nito. Yung evolution ng sapatos ngayon pagaanan na, ‘di ba? The traction is nice and especially designed for players like Kyrie and me na talaga ma-change yung direction so very important na we have contact with the floor. Makapit siya actually. It has support pag tumatalon ka and explosiveness mo hindi ka niya pababayaan,” said Ravena, who has been wearing Nikes for the past nine years.
However, the Blue Eagle said he’ll wait for the Duke colorways of the Kyries so he can match them with his Ateneo uniform.
According to Torres, the feedback from the players as well as his experience pointed to three things.
“Flexible traction, we have a shoe that moves well with your foot and gives you a good grip of the court, we have a very light shoe and easy to play with and we also have a very responsive shoe. When you talk about responsive we talk about being zippy it’s like a sportscar - when you hit the gas a little bit you zip. The Zoom Air is designed for responsive cushioning but at the same time when you want your foot protected.”
The Kyrie 1, at Php5,795, is the least expensive Nike signature basketball shoe. It was released in the Philippines last Saturday. The initial Deceptive Red colorway will be followed by an additional three more in the next three months, which will be available at Nike retailers, Titan shops and the titan22.com webstore.