WITH the absence of the heralded Gilas Pilipinas big men the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers, young center Isaac Go is ready to fill in as one of the remaining bigs in the pool and put in the extra work to be on a par with pros Troy Rosario and Poy Erram.
“I want to give the coaches an peace of mind knowing that I’m out there. I want to make them say, ‘Isaac’s out there and he’s okay’, and not something like ‘I have to get Poy back, or Troy back,’” he shared in an interview with SPIN Life. “I have to make quality minutes. I have to hit open shots and make the right play.”
The 6-foot-10 Go has been quickly adapting to a Gilas system, which is almost similar to that of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, where he had a five-year stint in the UAAP.
It’s the drive of his multi-talented teammates that has been helping him get through and prepare for his bigger role in the team, with Japeth Aguilar, Christian Stanhardinger, and June Mar Fajardo all missing the opening round.
Go admitted, “Of course, there is pressure to perform, but there’s a part of me that’s taking this as a learning opportunity with such great players and high-level competition. I’m just going to give my best and give my all to improve and maximize what I have.”
In terms of adjustments after finding out that it’s only him, Erram, and Rosario left to fill the huge void in the middle, he made sure that everything was brought under control by a coaching staff that has been suiting him up well just in time for the tournament.
“I have the confidence in mysel. My teammates and coaches have the confidence in me as well, given the right situations — I’m put in the right spots where I can excel. Number one adjustment for me is conditioning in practice since we don’t get as much substitutions,” he added.
Moreover, Gilas coach Mark Dickel firmly believes that the young Go can step up to the plate as much as the other bigs in the team.
“With Isaac, so far so good. He’s becoming more comfortable, and it’s a great adjustment for him. These are big shoes to fill, I think in the future he can. But for the short term, he’s contributed well. He’s very smart, so he’s not going to be out there doing things he shouldn’t be doing. I’m very sure he’ll be fine. I think he’s ready,” Dickel said.
For his part, Go underscored his national responsibility, while also delighting in this career milestone.
“Adjustment is easy in terms of playing with these people. These guys are pros, these guys are the players I’ve looked up to, or I have played against, or have been my teammates throughout my career," he said. "It’s been fun and enjoyable, and always great in terms of learning how the PBA is going to be, and how the pace of the international competition is going to be. In a week, I have learned a lot from these guys and the coaches.”