CEBU CITY – Despite the gloomy weather, the famed Cebu brand of basketball was in full display on Saturday when the reality documentary program ‘Nike Rise’ made a stop at the Cebu City Sports Institute.
A total of 167 aspirants tried out for the final 24 spots as they underwent a battery of rigorous cage drills during the morning and afternoon sessions supervised by former Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
The many-time national coach was assisted by his crew led by his brothers Mike and Billy, son Josh, Far Eastern University deputies Ryan Betia and Gilbert Lao, Paolo Gonzales, and Jonathan de Guzman.
Reyes lamented the bad weather prevented players from nearby Bacolod and Iloilo from coming over to try out, but appreciated the efforts of those who made it.
“I heard na marami ang di nakatawid from Bacolod and Iloilo pero yung andito kanina I thought there were some diamonds in the rough,” shared Reyes.
“I won’t say that I’m surprised because I know exactly how Cebuanos play so it’s a matter of trying to figure out what pieces we can use from the Cebu tryouts, what pieces can be used for the team that we’re trying to form,” said Reyes as he tries to form a formidable unit that will compete against an all-star collegiate team in the finale.
Nike Philippines country manager Patrick Reyes also liked what he saw from the Cebu leg and shared his thoughts about the Cebuano brand of play.
“I think what I saw is that the Cebuano players have a very distinct style of play which is very unique and very streetball, very good on the fastbreak. I would have loved more height to be honest, but overall it’s a solid tryout. So far, I’m impressed,” the Nike official said.
After the Cebu leg, Nike Rise headed to Davao on Sunday for the final tryouts. The coaches and Nike brass will meet this week to decide on who will eventually make the final cut.
The final 24 will enjoy technical training and strength and conditioning sessions supervised by Reyes and his assistant, cage great Jimmy Alapag.
There will also be guest coaches and mentors as part of the six-week program.
“It’s important for the market that we’re trying to reach the kids who otherwise don’t have the opportunity. Yung mga nasa school, nasa big programs, they have a lot of opportunities but there’s a big segment of the basketball-playing public in the provinces that don’t have that opportunity so this is the vehicle that they can use,” said Reyes of Rise’s thrust to uncover the sport’s hidden gems and provide them with proper platform to shine.
Patrick Reyes also echoed Chot’s sentiments as he emphasized Rise’s significance in this basketball-crazy country.
“It’s extremely important. Nike Rise is a platform designed to discover and train the hidden gems in the country, those who don’t have access to formal training programs, the right equipment, that’s what we want to do with Rise. We’re hopeful that it gets a lot of support,” he explained.