By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Philo is a restless basketball mind. International scout, assistant coach, the “father” of eurocamp and above all a man that speaks basketball. The opportunity to talk with him about Minesota, the Olympics, eurocamp and his new venture was more than tantalizing for us and you can have an inside look on his global basketball happenings.
- Give us the latest updates from Pete Philo. You stopped as director of the eurocamp yet added the Chinese National Team to your busy life. Can you explain?
“The decision to stop as the Director of the eurocamp was mutual from both sides. After nine successful years and over 80 players drafted in the NBA it was time to move on. Other doors were opening, I have more responsibilities with the Timberwolves and of course Team China and the Olympic year. I had an amazing offer from the Chinese National Team to be the Director of Scouting and Assistant coach. I am on my third summer with China now. Two gold medals, one in the Asia games and one in the Asian continental championships (Olympic qualifier). Also coaching in the World Championships was a memory that will last forever. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. I have always dreamed about going to the Olympics and felt that we had a really good chance to qualify. When Bob Donewald and Team China asked me, I could not refuse. The Eurocamp is in good hands and will flourish with success. I have no worries it will continue to be great….”
- What about the Minnesota Timberwolves? How do you manage all of this?
“Minnesota is my first job. I spend 90% of my day working for the Timberwolves. I am lucky to have a great boss in David Kahn who understands the importance of the China opportunity and all that it also does for us in Minnesota. The experience and information are very valuable. I am only gone for small periods of time throughout the summer. I don’t miss many Timberwolves responsibilities at all. In fact, I will leave Team China on Friday to go to scout the eurocamp, then to Minnesota to help prepare our draft room. After that I will go to Venezuela to scout the Olympic qualifying tournament in which the third place team will be placed in our group in London. After that tournament I will go back to China and join the team for the final phase of preparation. After London Olympics I will have a little time off then get prepared for training camp with the Wolves. It’s actually a great balance” .
- Tell us about your time in Treviso and the eurocamp. It is the premier camp in the world and you are the person responsible for building this to what it is today…
“First of all, the camp was built not only from me but from the relentless efforts of many people. Reebok is the company that had the trust and belief that the event would be a great success. They were the owner/sponsor for the first seven years. Benetton has been a very gracious host. It took many trusting relationships from the beginning that needed to put their neck on the line and show the world that we were doing something positive for the European basketball prospects. Keep in mind, many European GM’s and coaches were not comfortable sending their players the first few years. It took a very detailed recruiting effort to pull this off and gain the trust of many people. I was spending over 220 days per year traveling around Εurope trying to convince people that this camp would be special. Donnie Nelson, Kiki Vandewheghe, Maurizio Gherardini and myself were the four that had organized much of the details and how this would all come together. We all used our relationships both European and NBA to educate the basketball community about our ideas. From there it was a snowball effect. Once a few players were drafted and European clubs saw it as a way to get some recognition for their clubs, they started participating a little more. My last 3 years at the camp we didn’t have to recruit at all. We send the invitation and they come… of course there are a few situations that you need to handle in terms of re-contacting the club, agent etc…. but for the most part the camp runs itself now. Adidas took over two years ago. This will be the third year for Αdidas and they have not missed a beat. They are putting many resources into the event to ensure a high quality product is presented. Arturas Karnisovas has taken over in my place and I could not be more happy. He is an outstanding person and a very diligent worker… He will do great”!
- Does it make you feel proud when you see the success of all the former eurocampers?
“Absolutely! To know that I had a small impact on someone’s life is a very special feeling. This event gives young basketball players an opportunity to put their name on the global basketball map. During my travels either with scouting or Team China, I often see former eurocampers. Many have grown into young men which means I’m getting old…. I see all of the hard work they have put in and this makes me very proud. I am very thankful for the opportunity that Reebok gave me 10 years ago as well as Adidas believing in me to continue to run the event the past two years after they took over. It has changed my life and I’m a better person because of this experience”.
- The Timberwolves were the surprise team in the NBA this year until injuries hit the team. What are your thoughts about the future of the team?
“Our team is a young and exciting team. Unfortunately we did get hit with some injuries this past season which is obviously out of our control. We also hired a new coaching staff prior to last season. We have something to be excited about in Minnesota. We feel confident that the players who were injured will come back strong and ready for a new season. I’m not a fan of predictions or expectations but we are definitely heading in the right direction…”
- I have heard your name come up a few times as a future GM in the NBA, is this your goal or desire?
“I am not a chaser of job opportunities. I like where I am within the Minnesota organization. David Kahn often asks for my input and information. I feel like a very big part of the organization and we are all in a good place. I am about quality of life. I live in Charlotte NC, a great area to scout in/from, I also have a direct flight to Europe. I feel like I can maximize the scouting experience in my current situation. I am very fortunate to have done what I’ve done thus far in basketball. Eurocamp for nine years, World Championships, Olympics, etc. If being a GM is in the cards one day then it will happen. If it doesn’t, I will be very happy with my career”.
- We have heard about this new company you started. TPG Sports Group. Can you tell us about it?
“TPG Sports Group (www.TPGsportsgroup.com) is an events company. I have been running events for over 20 years. Even as a player I was running events. It’s my hobby and something I love to do. We have two events for 2012. One has just passed, it was the “Sports Career Conference”. This was an amazing event where we brought in over 20 speakers from various sports organizations /franchises as well as ESPN to come in and speak on six different panels to discuss their path to working in sports. The attendees were college students and/or young professionals looking to break into a career in sports. It was educational for all of us, even the speakers. Everyone had a different story to share. We had a networking social where all the attendees could bring their resume’s or business card to share information with many companies that were present. The event was a huge success with many people accepting positions within sports. Our second event which will be in September 7-9 is the “Masters In Coaching” clinic. We have six NBA coaches as well as Bob Hurley Sr (Hall Of Fame), Fran Frashchilla (ESPN) & Alan Stein (speed and strength coach of Kevin Durant). This coaching clinic is already being talked about as being the best in the world…. I personally have been very fortunate to have trusted relationships with many great basketball minds. I simply wanted to put many of them together for one weekend and offer the best possible coaching clinic one can offer. We will have 2 parts to the clinic. (something never done before)…. The first part is having the “Masters” perform a clinic detailing everything from spacing, set plays, offensive, defensive concepts etc etc…. Part 2 will be the “Specialists” which are Alan Stein (Speed & Strength), Kenny Atkinson – NY Knicks (Player Development), Stephen Giles – 6 NBA teams advance scout (will break down an advance scouting report detailing how to scout your opponent), Adam Filipi (Shooting Guru) – has a book “shoot like the pro’s” that is endorsed by Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. The “Specialists” are considered the best in the world in their specific field. We will have designated Q & A sessions for all in attendance to maximize their experience…. For coaches: this is a can’t miss opportunity. For VIP admission coaches will attend a lake boat cruise with our Masters and Specialists plus special guests…. You can find all sign up information on our website www.TPGsportsgroup.com then click on the “Masters In Coaching””.