Abu Tratter still remembers how he felt when he first practiced with Gilas Pilipinas back in 2018.
At that time, the bruising 6-foot-6 forward had just wrapped up his playing years with De La Salle University and was playing for the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers in the PBA D-League.
Tratter had never been invited to the national team program until then, as he was included in the talent pool for the second window of the FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.
So, when he set foot into the Meralco Gym in Pasig and saw some of the best the country has to offer — such as multi-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo — he was left in awe.
“I came here and I was starry-eyed seeing June Mar [Fajardo], seeing everybody,” recalled Tratter, who eventually cracked into the final lineup that faced Australia in the said window.
A couple of years later, Tratter, now 27 and a pro, was back in the place where his Gilas dreams materialized.
The Alaska Aces big man had been invited to be part of the pool for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers’ first window next week, and he attended his first practice on Friday evening.
This current batch of Gilas is different from the ones he had worked with before, though. Now, it features a bevy of young talents headed by Thirdy Ravena, Kobe Paras, and Juan Gomez De Liaño.
The young ones are working with some of the best PBA cagers today like Kiefer Ravena and Troy Rosario. For Tratter, he thinks that they are feeling the same way he felt back then around the pros.
“I’m guessing they have the same experience right now,” he said.
“They’re starry-eyed too.”
But for Tratter, he sees something special with the upstarts, which has him excited to be with them as they continue to prepare together for the upcoming contest.
“Some of the young guys that I played with before are a little bit confident. They have a little bit of swagger in them now that they have made a name for themselves in the UAAP and the NCAA,” the La Salle product said.
“Just seeing them, it’s exciting because these guys are still young and they’re not even in the pros, yet they are already holding higher standards for themselves,” he continued.
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