GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes describes as "priceless" the time the national team is spending with former Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura, citing the valuable insights the nationals got during their two-week training camp in Palanga, Lithuania.
“He (Kemzura) emphasized doing the little things right consistently and his insights on the international game are priceless,” Reyes said in a text message from Lithuania.
The 43-year-old Kemzura was the man behind Lithuania’s surprise bronze-medal finish during the 2010 Fiba-World championship in Istanbul, Turkey.
Lithuania beat Serbia, 88-77, in the battle for the bronze.
Bannered by NBA veteran Linas Kleiza, the Lithuanians sported an 8-1 record in the Fiba-Worlds three years ago, losing only to eventual champion United States, 74-89.
Even Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio observed the nationals are now "learning how to play Fiba-style" basketball after spending more than a week in the Baltic City with the former Lithuanian national coach.
“It’s more like `yung paying attention to little details and to make plays more fluid, like making the extra pass. Though parang same style din sila ni Chot eh. So I think little tweaks na lang ang ginagawa niya (Reyes),” stressed Antonio.
The Gilas executive, who also manages Meralco in the PBA, added Kemzura sat on the team bench during its past tune-up games to help out and compare notes with Reyes.
“So I think it’s safer to say we’re learning how to play the Fiba way now,” said Antonio. “And at least the guys now know how to move in the technical aspect like the travelling, hand check, and other stuff.”
Reyes and the 13-man Gilas training pool are now in the final stretch of their two-week buildup in Lithunia as part of its preparation for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in August.
The training camp includes a seven-game tune-up series with club teams and the Lithuanian 20-and-under national team, along with training sessions with Kemzura.