De La Salle Green Archers big man Brandon Bates is making the most of being back home in Australia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 6-foot-9 bruising big man has been playing in the Waratah League, a semi-professional basketball tournament in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, with permission from De La Salle University.
In an exclusive interview with Rappler, the Fil-Aussie student-athlete said he hopes the experience will provide him with the confidence to excel in the UAAP whenever the collegiate sports league returns.
“When I realized how long I would most likely be staying back home, I knew I had to try and do something to stay in game shape,” explained Bates, who flew to Australia in March.
“A friend of mind who I went to school with works for the team so he was able to put me into contact with my current coach and I had a spot.”
Bates is suiting up for the Sutherland Sharks, who are undefeated in 3 games early in their campaign thanks in part to his performance.
He’s averaging 9.3 points and 10.7 rebounds plus shooting 63.2% from the field in a little over 22 minutes per contest. Their next match is on Saturday, August 8, against the Norths Bears.
“I really enjoy playing for them,” he gushed. “As much as I love playing overseas, it’s nice to be back home playing on familiar ground. My teammates here welcomed me with open arms and are incredibly friendly and happy to have me on board.”
Bates, who says he should have two more years of playing eligibility in the UAAP, stated that La Salle has been supportive of his current journey.
“They saw it as an opportunity for me to stay in shape and hopefully grow as a player so they were happy for me to join and play back here.”
That is similar to the stance taken by the FEU Tamaraws with its captain Ken Tuffin, who suited up in a New Zealand semi-pro league.
Another reason why La Salle is in favor of it is because of the competition Bates will face in the Waratah League, which is expected to enhance his skills and basketball intelligence.
“The competition is a mixed bag here, there are a lot of ex-pros and current pros playing in this league,” said Bates.
“In my first game I had to play against current professional and national player Daniel Kickert, as well as another professional in Craig Moller. Both play the 4/5 position so it was a good challenge and showed me what I need to work on to get to that type of professional level.
Bates has received criticism since playing in the UAAP, but has the goal of coming back a better performer.
“I think the biggest thing this will help me improve in is confidence, something I haven’t really shown during my time in the UAAP,” he said. “But playing with and against professional players will be a big help going forward for sure.”
Bates has also kept an eye on what’s going on with his home team in the Philippines.
About to enter his third season as a Green Archer, he will have a third new head coach in Derrick Pumaren, who is a seasoned mentor with championship experience.
“I’m a big fan of our current coaches and system we have in place at DLSU. It’s been a relatively easy transition from last year’s staff to this year’s,” said Bates.
“With coach Derrick at the helm, we have a veteran coach who’s been around forever and knows all the ins and outs of the UAAP, and he pushes us every day – even during this quarantine period. From about a week in, he’s had us doing regular workouts and keeps us on track. I’m also a fan of his patented Pumaren Press, because I know how well it can work.”
Bates also expressed confidence in the new faces of La Salle’s basketball program – including high school standout Kevin Quiambao and transferee Evan Nelle – because of the trust he has in management to find blue-chip recruits.
As for what he aims to accomplish for the rest of his collegiate tenure, Bates keeps it simple:
“It’s just the same as it’s always been, be comfortable in the role I play for the team and don’t try to do too much. Be a defensive presence and communicator and try to bring energy.” – Rappler.com
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.