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Vipers Start Training Camp in New Home

Discussion in 'Rio Grande Valley Vipers' started by HoopScribe, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015 9:27 pm


    EDINBURG — New Vipers head coach Matt Brase remembers three years ago when he was an assistant coach with Rio Grande Valley.

    Practices were held at The Summit Sports Club in Pharr, an adequate facility but small by NBA standards. There was only one basketball court. The weight room was shared with the public. Space was at a premium. The locker room was cramped and consisted only of lockers.

    Now Brase will lead the Vipers heading into their ninth NBA D-League season as training camp starts Tuesday morning. But they will do so on their own grounds, a 24,000-square foot practice facility, complete with two regulation NBA courts, and eight courts overall, a spacious locker room with seating and a big-screen TV, administrative offices, and weight and training rooms.

    “It’s a sense of home for the staff and the players, and then having the 24/7 availability and being able to get extra reps,” Brase said. “We can practice at times that get the most rest and recovery for our guys and really value their bodies so we’re not wearing them into the ground. We can plan and advance in a way that makes sense for our guys.”

    The front office staff of the Houston Rockets, the Vipers’ NBA parent club, ranks the Vipers’ practice facility, built in conjunction with the renovated Edinburg Parks and Recreation, as the fifth-best in the NBA, based upon size, look and feel.

    “Why don’t we have this?” Rockets center Dwight Howard gushed during a practice in October when Houston visited for Rocket Launch 2015. “We need this.”

    Rockets forward Terrence Jones, who played 24 games with the Vipers in 2012-13, was also impressed.

    “This place is incredible,” Jones said after the October practice. “So much space. A lot of room to work. It would’ve been nice to have had this when I was down here, but it’s great for the guys coming in.”

    The Rockets held a two-hour practice at the facility a day before hosting Orlando for a preseason game at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. Some of the Rockets said after the Orlando game they were surprised the locker room at the practice facility was bigger than the one at the arena.

    “For us, we’ll definitely take that as a compliment,” Vipers president Bert Garcia said. “We had this in mind, for the Vipers staff and players to be able to do their work without worry about space or resources. And we want the guys to get better. Development is the point.”

    The practice situation was worse for the Vipers the last two seasons after a fire damaged The Summit Sports Club in July 2013.

    The Vipers practiced at State Farm Arena, where they play their home games, but the arena had strict times when they could practice because of scheduling of various other events. The Vipers were often left to practice at then-UTPA’s fieldhouse, or high schools or middle schools around Edinburg and McAllen.

    Now the Vipers are one of only three D-League teams to have their own practice facility separate from where they play their home games.

    “It’s a dream for every team and every coach to have a home,” Vipers general manager Gianluca Pascucci said. “Thanks to (Vipers majority owner) Alonzo Cantu and the ownership group, we have a home. It’s a big-time statement and high-level commitment.”

    The Vipers are bringing the maximum 17 players to camp, which will have to be whittled down to 12 by the start of the regular season in less than two weeks.

    “We’ve got some bigs, some athletes, some shooters and it’s a good combination to work with,” Brase said. “We’ve got a little bit of everything. It’s going to be a really competitive camp because there’s a lot of talent. There’s going to be a lot of tough decisions to be made.”

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