Alapag rues missed opportunity with Gilas due to injury
MANILA, Philippines – Former captain to the Philippine national men’s basketball team Jimmy Alapag was “disappointed” he could not heal his injury in time to play once again for Gilas Pilipinas.
The 37-year old point guard, who was included in the 24-man pool, has been nursing a strained left quad over the past month as the nationals prepared for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship to be held later this month in Changsha, Hunan, China.
“Honestly, it’s tough from an injury standpoint, it’s always tough dealing with injury that has you out for a while but even more so when it’s for another opportunity to play for Gilas,” he told Rappler in a phone interview. “In that respect it is disappointing but I couldn’t be more excited for those guys.”
The final 12-man Gilas line-up was announced earlier this week and the veteran’s name was not on the list as he lost the race against time to become fully healthy and ready to play. Alapag saw limited action in the 4-nation pocket tournament in Estonia as well as the William Jones Cup in Taiwan where Gilas bagged the silver.
“It really came to a situation where I just didn’t have time for my quads to heal and be a hundred percent and be in the shape the way I would have liked,” he said. “I was worried about it a bit in Estonia. Once I re-aggravated it in Taipei I really knew it was gonna be a race against the clock more than anything.”
Young guards like Terrence Romeo and Jayson Castro are now left to take up the cudgels of a team raring to win a gold medal and a slot at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Athletic forwards Calvin Abueva and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser as well as JC Intal are also the new faces in the line-up.
“I think the new guys, they give us new energy and I think they give the team a lot of versatility,” explained the formerly retired Talk ’N Text gunner who brought out his sneakers again and inked a deal with Meralco for the upcoming PBA season.
“From Terrence with scoring, to Calvin’s energy and motor and hustle, to Matt’s versatility in playing different positions, and JC you’ve got another guy who’s an athletic wing, who can knock down shots and get to the rim.
“No doubt the new guys will give the coaching staff a lot of flexibility for what style of play they’ll need – whether they’ll be playing against China, Korea or Iran.”
Despite the fresher legs and bodies, Alapag noted the young ones are “not quite” ready yet.
“But that’s what these next two weeks are for. I think in the Jones Cup the team took huge strides forward as far as getting their identity and how they’ll need to play to win games,” said Alapag, who will now be focusing on Meralco and preparing for the PBA season that starts on October 18.
“I think with two weeks left before FIBA Asia, now it’s a matter of fine-tuning offensive and defensive schemes."
Gilas is set to play in one last pocket tournament, the MVP Cup, over the weekend, after which they will reportedly fly off to Cebu for a full week of secluded training before the FIBA Asia tilt. – Rappler.com
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