PBA players feel the heat - literally and figuratively - as they prepare for playoffs
NLEX players seek relief from the heat inside the FCL gym. 

THE extreme weather condition heating up the country, with heat index reports reaching a high of 51 degrees on Tuesday in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and 37 degrees in Manila last Sunday, spared no one from exhaustion, not even the fittest athletes like top PBA players.

SPIN.ph caught up with players of the NLEX Road Warriors braving the sweltering heat as they trained inside their non-airconditioned training facility at the FCL Gym in Quezon City.

Basketball stars like Asi Taulava, Sean Anthony, Mark Cardona, Kevin Louie Alas and Jonas Villanueva all complained of one thing: the insufferable humid heat.

In fact, most of the players, even the team staff, were seen scampering to the four large ventilators inside the gym just to get a much-needed respite during breaks in play.

"Grabe ang init. Buti nga nag-adjust na sila coach ng schedule, 10-12 kami ngayon. Di talaga namin kakayanin kung yung dating sked na 12-to-1," said Cardona.

"Tignan mo naman pawis namin pre, tagaktak talaga. Kahit hindi kami nakabilad, ramdam mo ang init. Mamaya paglabas namin, parusa rin yan, parang disyerto ang init eh," he added.

Anthony even told SPIN.ph that he may request a shift to an earlier morning training to spare themselves of the heat inside the gym.

"I think, we need to adjust a little more. Heat is terrible. Ang init talaga. I'd say, 8 to 10 will be okay, coz we don't get to be playing and doing our routines with the sun up," said Anthony.

"I don't know, the heat is punishing. Terrible. I am just trying not to think about it while I am on the court," he added.

NLEX physical therapist Kennedy Leander said the staff put in an extra effort to check on the health of their players.

"Nagsu-supply na lang kami ng hydrite lagi para di mag cramps. Yun din rason kaya awa ng Diyos walang incident ng cramps o heat-related injuries sa players," said Leander.

Taulava and team manager Ronald Dulatre, however, are just looking at the positives, saying the heat in practice will make the players tougher during game time.

"For me, the heat is okay, coz we get to lose more excess weight at the same time make it easier for us to play on airconditioned arena like Araneta during game day," said Taulava. "The heat is punishing, but I like the extra challenge for us."

"Nag-apologize na ako sa mga players about the heat sa gym, pero sila na mismo nagsabi, part yun ng preparations nila. Sabi nga nila, mas magaan raw katawan nila pag-aircon na ang gym na nilalaruan nila," said Dulatre, who changed his shirt thrice during the practice because of constant sweating.

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Meanwhile, as they prepare for their crucial final elimination game against Alaska, the Road Warriors team officially had their gym blessed in the presence of high-ranking NLEX officials, headed by company president Rodrigo Franco.

"Matagal-tagal na kami rito. Ngayon lang kasi namin naharap, hinintay pa kasi namin matapos yung gym at office namin dito sa FCL, sana nga may dalang swerte sa campaign namin yung pag-bless sa gym," said Dulatre.

Watch the NLEX team in practice:

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos