CLARK, Pampanga -- The TNT franchise changed their monicker from KaTropa to Tropang Giga before the start of the PBA restart to further stress their push for mobile internet usage.
In the past, communication through cellular phones were only made with calls and text messages -- a reason why the franchise shortened their name from Talk 'N Text to TNT. Now, it's all about mobile data, which consumers need in order to play games, stream video, connect via social media, and even attend online classes.
True to their team name, the TNT Tropang Giga, who are currently doing well in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, have found that one of the solutions to the new challenges that the PBA bubble present is innovation based on consistent internet connection.
Prior to going to Clark, Pampanga, PBA teams were told to limit their delegation to only 25 personnel -- 15 of which are players -- due to the limited number of rooms at the Quest Hotel. Teams had to balance the rest of the 10 slots among coaches, physical therapists, and staffers.
One of TNT's coaches who stayed out of the PBA bubble was Josh Reyes, who was waiting for the birth of his first child. Knowing that late arrivals wouldn't be allowed and anyone who left the Clark bubble wouldn't be allowed back in, the TNT management decided to leave Reyes out.
"During the lockdown, I was trying my best to stay productive," Reyes explained. "We were doing our best to help the players manage their conditioning, but TNT management instructed us to find ways to educate ourselves so the time we had on our hands won't be wasted."
Through his search for tools that could help him become a better assistant coach for TNT, Reyes stumbled upon Luceo Sports, a company that creates apps that helps coaches teach the game better and players understand tactics faster. The management saw how helpful the technology could be, especially with the limitations of gatherings in the midst of the lockdown period, so they decided it was worth the shot.
The app, which is called ASSIST, is a digestible tool for Tropang Giga players to study the team's playbook on their own -- all they need to do is download the app and make sure they're connected to the internet. TNT coaches fill the app with their offensive schemes and inject scouting videos that would help them strategize their defense.
The tool has proven to be effective for the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns in the NBA.
"What's good about this app is that it makes learning a little more fun," Reyes explained.
The app can even test the knowledge of the players and their understanding of the gameplan by quizzing them about their designed plays.
"Everything is available in the app. You just have to put it what position you're playing and it'll tell you what you need to do in every play that we have," Reyes went further. "So when they're on the bus or in their rooms, they always have the option to study more. The practices run a lot smoother when the players already have a strong idea on what to do."
The playbook and scouting reports are interactive, full of animations and clips, and even feature a voice-over option by the coach. Each player's minutes spent using the app and memory game scores are monitored as well.
TNT Tropang Giga team manager Gabby Cui agreed that the ASSIST app has helped them greatly, especially for the new players such as JP Erram.
"Our players can all look at our plays via animation anytime and anywhere on their mobile devices using the Smart 5G network," he said.
"These are very challenging times. We're not used to coaching from afar," Reyes closed. "We're not used to not seeing our team. This is why we need to be very creative with our solutions and take advantage of the options that are available for us."