Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kobe imparts hard court know-how to Pinoy fans

MANILA – Being a successful athlete is the result of intense hard work and discipline.

National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Kobe Bryant showed this "hard work" by letting his fans take a peek of his grueling “Blackout” workout during the Manila stop of the 2009 Kobe Asia Tour.

Bryant, also known as the “Black Mamba,” got down to business by showing exactly what he does during practice. He was joined by a group of up-and-coming young basketball players called Nike Elite Campers.

The basketball clinic kicked off with Bryant choosing one elite camper, Mico Salva of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, to follow his instructions.

Salva and the crowd were eager to learn, and Bryant was ready to show his stuff.

The counter move

Amid blasting hip hop music, Bryant detailed his “Blackout” workout wherein he makes 20 shots per spot.

In “the interest of time,” however, Bryant could not show the whole workout so Salva was asked to make 10 shots in selected spots.

Salva started off on the dots, then on the free throw line, and was made to shoot from other spots. Bryant related that he does the shooting from the left and right, and also from the other side “over and over and over again.”

Bryant, who was chewing gum while giving instructions to Salva, was very particular with the moves. He paid attention to the details as every little thing mattered to him.

Whenever he taught a move, he wanted that move to be done 10 times. When Salva tried to do a variation, Bryant reminded him, “Never do that move again.”

The “Black Mamba” then taught Salva the importance of a counter to the move. “It’s not about how many moves you can do. It’s about having one and having a counter to that.”

Bryant also told Salva to keep the ball at his side so that the opponent will be unable to tap it. He also mentioned the importance of stepping off and creating space.

When Bryant noticed that Salva seemed to be hastening a sequence, he remarked, “It’s not about doing it fast, it’s about doing it right.” The crowd cheered every time Bryant demonstrated a move.

Meantime, he told Salva, “Very good.” The crowd applauded. But Byrant added, “We’re not yet done.”

'One step ahead all the time'

Bryant went on to the fade away. While Salva was in the process of doing a sequence, he slipped on the floor. Bryant helped him get up while someone mopped the floor.

Salva had to do every shot and sequence 10 times. When Salva missed his ninth shot, Bryant told him, “You gotta make two in a row to finish.”

Bryant commended Salva after the workout exhibition, “Good job.”

The Lakers superstar reiterated that he does all those shots from both sides at mid post, post, elbow, free throw, top of the key, and isolation spots “over and over and over again.”

Salva was thrilled to have Bryant tutored him on the rudiments of his game. He said the lessons he learned from the NBA superstars will definitely be put to good use.

"I'm a really huge Kobe fan, I really feel lucky, its such a blessing," he said. "Definitely I will remember this, everyday I practice, everyday I take it on the court the things I learned from him."

Bryant then played a 1-on-1 mid post game against Nike Elite Camper Ian Sangalan of the RP Youth Team.

“When I was growing up, I was smaller than everybody else,” he said before the race to 5 game started.

The 6’6’’ Bryant swept the game, 5-0. He made a fade away, did lay-ups. He also blocked and tapped the ball.

He mentioned that a “defensive player knows what an offensive player is thinking.” It is a must to be “one step ahead all the time,” he told the crowd.

Sangalang said that even if he failed to score against Bryant, the experience of playing with the NBA-MVP will not be forgotten. "Hinding-hindi ko makaklimutan tong araw na to, lahat ng tinuro nya sa akin. Kahit di ako naka-shoot sa kanya, at least naka-one on one ko si Kobe," he said.

'For the kids'

Bryant picked Manila to be the first stop of his Asian tour because of the Filipinos’ sheer love for basketball.

“It feels great, this is like my home away from home. It's great to be back with people who truly enjoy the game as much as I do,” he said.

Apart from promoting the new Nike Dream Season shoe, which he helped design, he said he returned to Manila for the Filipino "kids" he taught basketball during his RP visit in 2007.

"I really came here for the kids, they love the game," said Bryant. "The last time I was here, I pushed them really really hard, but they had the inner fortitude, the inner strength... to me that said a lot."

Bryant is set to show his workout to other cities part of his Asia Tour: Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chengdu. With reports from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News and Dennis Gasgonia,

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