EARLY bird catches the worm.
Barangay Ginebra will do exactly that as the Kings return to practice on Monday, two months before the 40th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) comes off the wraps this October.
Coach Jeffrey Cariaso admitted he doesn’t want to waste any time and will use the extra period to further familiarize the Kings to playing the triangle offense.
The soft-spoken mentor stressed the offensive system designed by Hall of Famer Tex Winter is complex and needs a lot of work before the players become more comfortable with the structure.
Cariaso took over as Ginebra coach just before the Governors Cup last season and hardly had time to instill his pet offensive offensive system.
Now he will have all the time he needs.
“The (main thought) on our return to practice (Monday) is to get back in grind. I’m truly excited with the long offseason,” said Cariaso, who was accommodating enough to answer questions from Spin.ph even while inside a movie house with his son.
“I plan to use it to improve every aspect of what it takes to be a better team, both on and off the court,” added former PBA star who also happens to be the owner of Titan sports house.
It’s been six years since Ginebra last won a championship and Cariaso believes polishing the triangle is one big step towards attaining the team’s goal of returning to the top.
A protégé of coach Tim Cone, Cariaso said he expects all Ginebra players to be present on the first day of practice at the team’s new training camp at the Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) gym in Ortigas.
How he also hopes stalwarts and Gilas Pilipinas mainstays LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar will be around to be with the Kings.
“I wish LA (Tenorio) and Japeth (Aguilar) were here during this time, but I’m sure what they experience and learn (in the Fiba World Cup) in Spain and playing for our national team will only better them as players - thus improving their mother team Ginebra upon their return,” he said.
The Kings will conduct practices at the CCF gym from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during weekdays and will look for other facilities on weekend as the gym will be used for praise and fellowship by the Christian organization.
Despite failing to make the Finals of any of the three conferences last year, the Kings still boast of one of the most formidable rosters in the league anchored on veterans Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Tenorio, Aguilar, Billy Mamaril, Jay-R Reyes and newly acquired scoring guard Joseph Yeo.
The team is also brimming with young guns in big man Greg Slaughter, Dylan Ababou, Chris Ellis, Emman Monfort, Mac Baracael, Jens Knuttel, Josh Urbiztondo, James Forrester, and Jens Knuttel.
Only Brian Faundo will not return from the Kings’ roster in the last Governors’ Cup as the 6-foot-5 center has been enlisted by expansion franchise Blackwater Sports.