By Ron Evangelista, BuhayBasket contributorOut of all the players in the Philippines’ beloved Gilas team, one player stands out.
Standing at over 6-foot-7, built like a freak specimen and imbued with collegiate championship experience, Abu Tratter is not your ordinary ball player.
The athletic forward from De La Salle University was the shocking pick by national team head coach Chot Reyes for this year’s roster, and he has to prove himself to both the players and the legions of fans backing Gilas up.
Tratter had said that representing the country was always a personal dream of his. But what exactly does he bring to the table?
Playing with Ben Mbala for De La Salle University certainly improved his game as he had someone to teach him and model his game after. Being coached by Aldin Ayo in his “Mayhem” style of basketball didn’t hurt too much either.
His time in the UAAP has honed his very raw talents and benefited the team but most importantly, it benefited his play.
Playing the role of garbage collector, Tratter was always on the run, relentlessly hustling for every possession in the minutes that he fielded. This comes as a positive for any coach in whatever league one is playing, let alone in the FIBA-Asia qualifiers.
For his career as a player, Abu averaged a measly 5 points and 5 rebounds per game. Doesn’t look much, right? But the stats do not show the intangibles that he brings to the game.
Tratter is the definition of a “glue-guy.” A scrappy dude who is willing to do the dirty job. A team player who will dive for loose balls, fight for rebounds and put-backs, all while allowing the superstars shine. For Gilas Pilipinas, he can fit in perfectly if he displays a Dennis Rodmanesque disposition.
Against Australia, his abilities were certainly needed after the Philippine team was out-rebounded by 20, out-hustled, and out-gunned by a very talented ball club. Tratter played just 3 minutes and visibly struggled against Australia’s big men.
Let that not lead people into dismay as he is still young, and his hunger for more success certainly fuels the fire inside of him. Trust in Coach Chot to transform this guy and bring out the potential inside of him.
After all, why shouldn’t we believe in Reyes style? The fiery mentor notably said that Tratter’s athleticism and size was an important addition to their team.
With the recent nail-biting finish against Japan, Gilas Pilipinas will have to use every ounce of strength they have to conquer their next opponents. Tratter might be the vital cog that will help seal the deal for the team fighting once again for the nation’s flag and pride.
Let’s hope that the “Tratter of Power” reaches his full potential for the whole world to see.
[Thumbnail photo from Tratter’s social media account; video from YouTube]