(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Coach Chot Reyes said the other day his mindset for the Philippine national basketball team, training at the Joe Abunassar impact camp in Carson City near Los Angeles, is to do the impossible in the gym now to prepare to do the impossible later.

For five months, the team will be getting battle-ready for the chance to play in the Beijing Olympics. The moment of truth will come in the FIBA-Asia Championships on July 28-Aug. 5 in Tokushima, Japan, where powerhouse China – assured of an Olympic ticket as host nation – is the defending titlist.

Reyes, assistant coach Aboy Castro, trainer Dennis Aenlle and 11 players left Thursday for a two-week camp personally supervised by Abunassar in Carson City. Abunassar is credited for developing the skills of stars like Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Duhon, Andrei Kirilenko and Sebastian Telfair.

The morning after arriving in the US, Reyes took the team to practice for two hours at the Home Depot Center. Two more hours of practice in the afternoon rounded out a grueling first day at camp.

"There was no way we should have gone as hard as we did after flying 12 hours and barely getting any sleep," said Reyes. "But all through the next five months, a lot of people are going to say we couldn’t or shouldn’t do a lot of things – we shouldn’t play in SEABA, we couldn’t win FIBA-Asia, we couldn’t beat China, we couldn’t get to the Olympics.

"That’s why on the first day of practice, I wanted to start doing things other people say we shouldn’t be doing. Let’s not wait until July to do the things people say we couldn’t do."

Reyes said beating China seems to be a mission impossible but he’s not resigned to it.

"We’ll never know until we try," he said. "We shouldn’t wait until July to start doing the impossible. We need to start now to do the impossible, even in little ways. Because when we start training our bodies and minds to do the impossible, to do the things we shouldn’t be doing today then we will be better prepared to do the impossible later."

Reyes said he’s impressed by the dedication and effort the players showed on the first day at camp. "I’m proud to be here with you," he told the players. "Great work. Get your rest and let’s come back and do even better tomorrow."

In the morning session, Reyes split the 11-man squad into guards and bigs. Jimmy Alapag, Jay-Jay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa, RenRen Ritualo and Dondon Hontiveros began with performance movement training followed by a series of individual drills in shooting, footwork, balance and ballhandling. The big men – Asi Taulava, Ranidel de Ocampo, Mick Pennisi, Kerby Raymundo, Danny Seigle and Tony de la Cruz – hit the weights and did flexibility training. Then, the guards went to the weight room and the bigs went through the individual skills modules.

In the afternoon, the team did more shooting, ballhandling and footwork exercises then broke into 3-on-3 drills focusing on ballscreens, hand-off executions and reading the defense. Interspersed were agility drills and a lot of running.

"To say the day was exhausting is an understatement," said Reyes. "That’s why I championed their efforts at the end of the session."

Pacquiao-Morales bout in higher division possible By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 04/02/2007

Don’t close the book yet on the Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales rivalry.

Unless other things get in the way, there’s still a possibility that these two great warriors, in a year or two, may meet a fourth time – not in the super-featherweight division but in the lightweight class.

"Maybe it’s possible. Even the others might follow me at 135. But it won’t be good for them. I’m very comfortable at this weight. I’m already very tired at 130," said Morales the other day.

"I really like the weight. Everything is fine. I think I can stay long in this division," said the 30-year-old Morales, who’s in the country for a quick promotional tour for San Miguel Beer.

Morales, who has won the world titles in the 122-126, and 130-pound divisions, has moved up to the 135-pound division, and is trying to become the first Mexican to win titles in four different weight classes.

Pacquiao, who turned 28 last December, has also climbed the ladder over the years and, as he gets older, may grow bigger and feel the need to move on to the lightweight division.

And perhaps meet up with Morales.

Morales, who lost twice in Pacquiao in their classic trilogy that started in March of 2005, will climb the ring on June 16 against World Boxing Council lightweight champion David Diaz.

It will be the first fight for Morales since he absorbed a punishing third-round knockout to Pacquiao in November last year. The future Hall-of-Famer from Tijuana also lost to the Filipino in January of 2006.

For Morales, it will be his second fight as a lightweight, losing his first, a non-title fight meant to keep him busy, to Olympian Zahir Raheem in September of 2005.

Pacquiao faces undefeated Mexican Jorge Solis at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on April 14. This bout will line him up for a shot at the WBC 130-pound title now being held by Juan Manuel Marquez.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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