Ateneo Blue Eagles to train in Las Vegas, South Korea and Lithuania
MANILA, Philippines - The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles are adding a new country to visit for their 2015 offseason training camp in preparation for the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, team head coach Bo Perasol told Rappler on Thursday, April 8.
In three weeks, the Blue Eagles will leave for their annual visit to Las Vegas where they will train with Impact Basketball head Joe Abunassar, a former NCAA Division I coach who has worked with multiple NBA player like John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Love, among many others.
Ateneo will return to the Philippines after their stint in Las Vegas before heading to South Korea for a tournament. And with the upcoming UAAP season scheduled to begin in September as opposed to the usual July opening due to the change in academic calendar, the team will have time for another training trip after.
By the middle of 2015, Perasol says Ateneo plans to go to Lithuania - the same country where reigning 5-time NCAA Champion San Beda Red Lions and Gilas Pilipinas have trained in the past.
The three scheduled trips led to the Blue Eagles' decision to not join the Hanes FilOil Flying V preseason tournament for a second straight season.
“The reason for that is, number one, we are going to go right away to the US. Then we’re going to Korea, then we’re going to Lithuania,” Perasol said about skipping the FilOil tournament.
“Our discussion was centered on, ‘Will it help if we’re going to join [FilOil] knowing that we are going to go through this training [schedule]?’
“Before there was no Korea and there was no Lithuania,” Perasol said on Thursday. “Right now, even if there is no other tournaments, we’re having a hard time because of guys getting injured.”
Perasol mentioned a number of injuries to his team, such as Hubert Cani, who just recovered from a sprain, and the still-recuperating Jerie Pingoy (sprain).
The Blue Eagles are currently participating in the first ever Philippine-Australia Goodwill Games tournament, in which they fell to 1-2 following a loss to the NU Bulldogs, 69-66, on Thursday at the Philsports Arena.
The Eagles suffered a 72-68 loss to the Arellano Chiefs on Wednesday, April 8, in a game where their star player and reigning UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena didn’t play after making a trip to the hospital the day before due to dehydration.
Ravena returned on Thursday, showing no signs of being weary as he scored 14 points in limited minutes.
Perasol said after the game that he wasn’t surprised Ravena went to the hospital, considering the amount of work he’s been through as of late with the Goodwill Invitational, and practice sessions with both the Blue Eagles and Sinag Pilipinas.
“He’s really into two practices, [which is] very hard, so we have to balance that,” according to Perasol, who says both Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena (who’s also part of the Sinag-Pilipinas 16-man pool), have seen limited involvement in Ateneo practices as of late.
“Thirdy and [Kiefer], I don’t allow them to practice with us actually if they have practice with Sinag,” Perasol said.
The Sinag Pilipinas roster, which will eventually be trimmed to 12, will represent the Philippines in the 2015 SEABA and Southeast Asian Games.
The Goodwill Invitational gives Perasol the opportunity to tinker and try different line-ups five months before the next UAAP season commences.
Ateneo, who lost starters Chris Newsome (Mythical 5 selection) and Nico Elorde to graduation after last year, is welcoming new faces in rookies Matt and Mike Nieto, Pingoy, Cani - whose availability is still up in the air due to the residency policy - and foreign-athletes Ikeh Chibueze and Ewenike Kingsley.
With a UAAP rule allowing only one foreign student-athlete per team beginning next season expected to pass, Ateneo will have to choose between Chibueze and Kingsley to field for Season 78.
“Obviously, not the way I wish it to be,” Perasol said about the development of both foreign student-athletes. Chibueze saw action against the Bulldogs on Thursday, scoring 0 points, and looked unpolished despite his impressive athleticism.
“But we have time,” Perasol said.