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Gavina displays rugged, physical game

Chris Gavina is bringing the rugged, physical brand of Philippine basketball to the Taichung Suns in the Taiwan T1 League.

In the latest episode of The Athletes’ Tribune, Gavina revealed that he was given the marching order of implementing a physical game when he handles the Suns in the T1 League that opened on 29 October.

Gavina is no stranger to the physical brand of basketball.

He spent his last two years as assistant coach of Rain or Shine, which was known for its tough and physical game in the Philippine Basketball Association.

He was promoted as head coach last year before sliding back to deputy role when seven-time champion coach Yeng Guiao took over before the start of the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup.

Guiao, of course, is known as a no non-sense mentor who trained the likes of Beau Belga, Jewel Ponferrada, and some of the league’s toughest enforcers.

In Taiwan, Gavina has big shoes to fill as he will serve as the replacement of veteran mentor Iurgi Caminos, a noted Spanish mentor who called the shots in commercial leagues in Japan, Spain, and Germany.

“It’s funny because when we had our first team dinner with one of the general managers, he was saying that ‘we like how the Philippines plays. We like your physicality in the Philippines. We want you to do that to our team,” Gavina told host Nikki Viola.

Gavina, however, admitted that asking the Taiwanese to play tough will not be easy.

“That’s one of the hardest things, making these guys go physical and accept being tough because a lot of these guys have good personalities. It’s hard to make them kinda like Beau Belga.”

“I’ve been trying to inject some of that Beau Belga into some of these guys but not too much. Just find a good balance and the guys responded.”

But the 43-year-old Gavina will not be alone in his mission to develop a fighting team.

Joining him in leading the Suns are American imports in Tony Bishop and Diamond Stone, who played for Meralco and San Miguel Beer in the PBA, respectively.

He will also have British-Iranian forward Aaron Geramipoor, who played for the Iranian national team in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Gavina said he is more than ready to call the shots for Taichung, especially after getting a good exposure under Guiao and facing some of the brightest minds in Philippine basketball like Tim Cone of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Norman Black of Meralco, Chot Reyes of TNT Tropang Giga and Leo Austria of San Miguel.

“I think that learning what I did in that one month under coach Yeng kinda helped me accept this challenge as well,” he said.

“The amount of knowledge he passed on to me on how he compartmentalizes his thoughts, simplifies his teaching methods and his philosophy was influential on my part.”

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