It's not everyday that you get to spend time on the basketball court with high-caliber players, but that was the case when FHM got the chance to try out the Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 Flyknit recently.
Last Saturday, several ballin' media men were invited to test the Swoosh brand's latest sneaker and its new tech, the cushioning foam React, but not without a few special participants. LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Gabe Norwood of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, and Kiefer Ravena of Gilas Pilipinas were present for an afternoon of good-natured competition at the Titan Love Court in BGC.
Each pro formed a team of five with the press people, and slugged it out in a four-team elimination for the ultimate bragging rights. I was grouped with writers Reuben Terrado, Cedelf Tupas, Bong Lozada, and Scottie.
Aside from the realization that I badly need to start running and lose a few pounds, I also learned a few other things that could be useful for casual players when joining pick-up games.
Pound the rock inside
Unless you take a hundred shots every goddaman day, it's difficult to be consistent from the perimeter. So just like in any other game, higher percentage attempts are still the best scoring option. Despite the imposing Gabe Norwood (all 6'5" of him), Reuben wreaked havoc offensively in the paint (which was also quite embarassing for me because I was a few inches taller). Mumbling Shaq was right: "Just give the ball to the big man and let him dominate."
Stick to your strengths
For someone who hasn't played for quite a while, running up and down the court for 30 minutes nonstop was pure hell. It might sound like I'm just making excuses for my lone point in the two games (go ahead, laugh at me), but grabbing 10 rebounds and swatting five shots per game made me feel that I'd done my job. Nothing can compare to being told "Nice D" by Scottie after a couple of defensive stops.
Make your teammates better
In the championship game, we went head to head with the Kiefer Ravena-led squad. Imagine the horrified look on our faces when The Phenom came out swinging and drained his first three three-point shots. Everyone was prodding Scottie to assert himself, but he went on and calmly facilitated. The endgame saw Kiefer run out of ammunition from long range, while The Pearl continued to do his thing on both ends of the floor.
Back up trash talk
In friendly games like this, one should take advantage of the extra pleasantries, especially with peers tending to slack off when going up against each other. Case in point: Bong seemed to have caught Kiefer off guard multiple times with some good-humored smack talk, which allowed the former a few easy baskets. Those verbal exchanges wouldn't be as effective if our teammate hadn't converted his shots.
Ride the hot hand
If you feel that a player is "in the zone," disregard everything I just said. In both games, Cedelf ended up as our highest scorer, running circles around opposing big men and hitting long bombs in the face of defenders. Everyone had no problem with him being our prime offensive weapon, even if it meant limited touches for the rest of the team, including Scottie. Fittingly, his transition drive won the mini-tournament for us.
The Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 Flyknit launches today, August 3, in Nike Park stores, at P8095