The Philippine national men’s basketball team has only been in training with former Lithuanian national team coach Kestutis Kemzura, but while the feeling-out process has only begun, the foreign coach is already finding common ground with his Filipino counterparts.
Kemzura, whose old Lithuania teams proved adept at running a dribble-drive offense similar to the one SMART-Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has installed for the national team, has spent some time breaking down game tape with the squad’s coaches.
“We watched a little bit of their game versus the USA where we saw interesting stuff both offensively, which is very similar to us, and more importantly, defensively. Then I ran him through our offense with use of videos we compiled,” Philippine team assistant coach Josh Reyes said from Lithuania.
“We got so into it that we proceeded to watch some of our games versus Iran and China and broke it down together. Coach observed and even took down notes for himself during our morning practice earlier.”
Kemzura steered the Lithuania team to the bronze medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championships. They dropped just one game in the whole tournament — a semifinal loss to Kevin Durant and his USA squad.
The similarities between his Lithuania team and the way Gilas wants to play is the reason he was selected to help in the training camp in the first place.
“We saw their game versus USA live and it made us decide to choose coach Kemzura,” added Reyes.
The Philippine team is currently in Lithuania on a training trip to kick off their preparations for the FIBA Asia Championship to be held in Manila in August.