WORLD-RENOWNED basketball trainer Joe Abunassar believes it is just a matter of time before a Filipino finally gets to play in the NBA.
“I think every year, better and better players are coming. Some of the (Filipino) young players who have trained with us, if they stick with it, they can definitely get to the NBA,” Abunassar told Spin.ph at the sidelines of Friday night’s games in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“It’s in the future for sure for one of them to hit the NBA if they continue to work because they have the talent, the athleticism and they just need a little bit of luck to go with it.”
Abunassar, who runs the Impact Basketball program in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Florida, is in Manila for a five-day visit to conduct basketball clinics to kids and observe some practices among a few college teams.
Abunassar has been credited for the huge improvement of current NBA players led by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, who recently retired after 17 seasons, Al Harrington, Tayshaun Prince, Demarcus Cousins, and Kyle Lowry to name a few.
The former US college coach-turned-basketball trainer took time to watch the KIA-Meralco match at the Cuneta Astrodome and reconnect with Bolts coach Norman Black, an old friend.
“We’re talking to coach Norman’s team, and really, the love for basketball here (Philippines) is something special. The willingness to work and work on their skill is at a high level,” Abunassar said.
Abunassar said his friendship with Black dates back to the veteran mentor’s college coaching career with Ateneo, when the multi-titled coach would regularly bring the Blue Eagles for training in Abunassar’s training center in Las Vegas before the UAAP season starts.
Of the many Ateneo players who have trained under the watchful eyes of the former assistant of Indiana coach Bobby Knight, Abunassar spoke highly of veteran star Kiefer Ravena.
“We got so many guys like Kiefer Ravena who has been with us for a long time and finally, he got his body in great, great shape and playing at a very high level,” he said.
“We really have been pushing them (players in the training center) to just push themselves and improve their skills everyday.”