‘HOW can an out-of-shape sportswriter like me survive rigorous training sessions specifically designed to develop the strengths of arguably the greatest among active basketball players in the planet?’
That was my first concern soon as I got the invite to try out LeBron James’ latest signature shoe, the Nike LeBron 14, in a battery of tests that Nike Philippines called the Come Out of Nowhere Experience.
James possesses the skills of a complete player. He can dribble like a point guard, convert shots like a wingman, post up like a power forward, and block shots like a center.
Me? My basketball skills are ‘decent’ and that was way, way back when I was younger. I haven’t shot a basketball for months. Heading into the first training session, I was legitimately worried if I can manage to keep up.
And yet there I was, testing the LeBron 14 but at the same time being put into drills centered around footwork, dribbling, shooting, and posting up, by the Far Eastern University squad led by head coach Olsen Racela, and later on by FEU strength and conditioning coach Jonathan De Guzman and assistant coach Ryan Betia.
In the warm-ups alone, De Guzman and Betia made us sweat in a humid gym to strengthen our core—from push-ups, to agility ladder drills, to leg mobility exercises with body bands.
When the real training session came, we were shooting teardrop shots using the left and the right hand, posting up against a defender, and dribbling while being pushed around.
The toughest drill, for me, was doing one of James’ signature moves—running coast-to-coast and scoring a lay-up at the other end. The catch, though, is that we can only use three dribbles.
But after the next few sessions of training, thanks to the drills we have been doing the past few weeks in improving our dribbling skills, and making the right technique in order to become a better player, we began to convert those lay-ups during those coast-to-coast drills.
“Mas magagaling pa kayo sa mga FEU players,” De Guzman said in jest.
Slowly, basketball became fun again for me, and the passion to play the game came back. There was even a time I played at the Titan Love Court and at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, all in one night. I also began to enjoy the healthy lifestyle through the training, either keeping in shape through basketball or exercise, losing a few kilos along the way. Aside from the physical gains, friendships were also nurtured during the entire session through basketball.
As the five-week training finally concluded, De Guzman and Betia congratulated us for a job well done, encouraging us to continue the training for ourselves.
I will surely do my best to continue the gains of the training. More than the physical aspect of the session, we may not play like LeBron James, not by a long shot, but something bigger came out from the training sessions for us persons who answered the call of journalism. We became better individuals.