MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas team captain Jimmy Alapag is postponing his retirement from international play for now as he is set to suit up for the Philippines when it competes in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea later this month.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes made the announcement via Twitter on Thursday, September 11 saying he had just met with the 36-year old Alapag. He summarized the meeting in two words: “I’m in.”
Alapag also took to Twitter to announce the news.
The 5-foot-9 playmaker was set to hang his Philippine jersey following a successful FIBA World Cup performance just last week where he showed the kind of leader he truly is for the Gilas squad. Alapag’s leadership and veteran experience is much needed for Gilas, which starts training again on Friday.
Naturalized big man Andray Blatche was barred from playing by the Olympic Council of Asia owing to a rule that says a naturalized player must complete a 3-year residency in the country he represents.
In another tweet, Reyes confirmed the team will still be fielding in a naturalized player in Marcus Douthit.
Douthit helped the Gilas finish second in the FIBA Asia Championships in 2013 and has been competing with the Philippine team since 2010.
Blatche received his Filipino citizenship only last June though did suit up for Gilas during the World Cup.
Alapag received much praise and gratification from fans especially after Gilas’ lone World Cup win against Senegal. He has been an icon of the Philippine national team for a decade and has been a part of rebuilding it to compete on the world stage.
In the World Cup, where Gilas exceeded all expectations, he served as a spark plug for the team and was deployed by Reyes each time Gilas needed a boost. He played an average of 21 minutes in 5 games and tallied 9.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists each game. – Rappler.com