FOR sure, TNT Katropa is savoring every moment of its vacation this holiday season.
After all, once the Texters return to practice, it’s going to be another grueling grind as they resume their buildup for the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup under new coach Nash Racela.
Larry Fonacier can attest to how taxing their training sessions can be under Racela, who has been urging his team to get back to the basics while instilling college spirit in a veteran-laden team.
“Coach Nash has been preaching change and…it’s like college again: the demand is high, he holds us accountable, he makes sure that we don’t make excuses,” the TNT gunner said.
“It’s hard at first because we’re not used to that kind of practice. But if we have this result consistently, then I guess we will embrace it and we will learn to enjoy it,” the 12-year veteran was quick to add.
Their hard work has definitely been bearing fruit: the Texters have won their last two games and four overall in six games for a share of second spot with Rain or Shine, just a game behind solo leader San Miguel Beer.
Who better to challenge Fonacier and the rest of the veterans than recent college stars and now TNT rookies Roger Pogoy, Alfrancis Tamsi, and Levi Hernandez, along with the rest of the Texters’ young guns.
“The new guys that he’s put in practice, they really push us,” Fonacier said. “They hurt us, they bring out the best in us, and we’re forced to match their energy, and so far, maganda yung resulta. The way college is, everyone’s going after your spot, so we have to be on our toes all the time.”
Keeping up with the young guns while going through Racela's rigorous training has made Fonacier (34) and fellow TNT veterans Kelly Williams (35), Ranidel de Ocampo (35), Ryan Reyes (33) and Harvey Carey (37).
“And when you play like college players, it’s fun and makes you feel young even when you’re old already,” the crack shooting guard added. “It also pushes us to give more than what we can, so we’ll see what we can give.”
It has definitely brought the best out of Fonacier, who is enjoying resurgence early this season, averaging 10.8 points built around 2.2 triples, three boards, 1.4 assists, and 0.8 steal in 27.3 minutes in his first five games.
The 2006 Rookie of the Year registered a season-high 16 points, highlighted by four treys, on top of four boards, one assist, and one steal in 28 minutes in the 109-100 win against Alaska last Friday.
And if this keeps up, embracing Racela’s philosophy won’t be as hard as expected.
It even seems they’re already beginning to.
“It’s a new change: it forces us to get out of our comfort zones, and we’re starting to like it,” Fonacier said.