Jimmy Alapag: Gilas Pilipinas will rise again

Naveen Ganglani
Jimmy Alapag: Gilas Pilipinas will rise again
As Gilas picks up the pieces after another defeat, the former team captain is confident the national team live fight once again

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines men’s national basketball team’s dream of making the 2016 Rio Olympics came to an end this week when Gilas Pilipinas went 0-2 against France and New Zealand in the FIBA Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Although Gilas had commendable performances against the two nations, it was clear the national team was still out-played and overwhelmed by the superior talent of its two opponents. 

But despite the disappointing end, former Gilas team captain Jimmy Alapag still sees a bright future for Team Philippines.

“It’s a tough night, without a doubt,” Alapag said on Wednesday in the aftermath of Gilas’ defeat to New Zealand. “But again, the guys should hold their heads high. I know they worked extremely hard for this tournament, and Gilas will live to fight another day.”

Alapag, one of the biggest icons in Philippine basketball history, played a major role back in the 2014 FIBA World Cup where the Philippines defeated Senegal and made history.

Some history was made again for the country when it hosted the Olympic Qualifiers that has also welcomed the national teams of Senegal, Turkey, and Canada. 

Alapag sees a positive in the fact that, despite coming up short, the national team was able to stay competitive against higher-ranked opponents.

“I think this OQT was another opportunity to show that we can compete against the world, but now we’re at this point, we have to turn the corner and find out how to win more of these games at this level,” he said.

Gilas’ future, however, has some questions with the retirements of Ranidel De Ocampo and Jayson Castro. It’s also still unsure if Gabe Norwood, Marc Pingris, and Jeff Chan will wear the country’s name on their chests again. 

“Del, Ping, Jayson, those are my guys. Gabe, Jeff, the guys who I was fortunate enough to go to battle with the last few years,” said Alapag. “The bond we have and created during our time together will go far beyond our playing years.

(READ: Gilas Pilipinas: defeated, but unbroken)

“I love those guys,” said Alapag, “and it’s tough to see them fall short. I would have loved to see them get an opportunity to play Canada on Saturday.”

Alapag says that now the Philippine team will have to rise and fight once again despite falling short in its latest tournament.

“That’s the nature of the game. You go out there and compete and fight as hard as you can, and sometimes you fall short, but you have to dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and like I said, Gilas will live to fight another day.” – Rappler.com

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