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Gilas return for Alapag still possible

MANILA, Philippines – “There’s a chance. I don’t know the final answer to that, but yes there is a chance.” 

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin has not voiced opposition to the former team captain turned assistant coach Jimmy Alapag coming out of retirement and wearing the national team jersey once more on the court.

Alapag is currently serving as practice player for the national team, which has absorbed several hits to its pool with injured and unavailable players. 

“It’s too early to say,” Baldwin admitted before praising the 37-year old Alapag for his readiness and willingness to sacrifice for flag and country. 

“You don’t have to do much for that guy to make a sacrifice for the Gilas uniform and for this country. He’ll do that in the drop of a hat. But it’s really going to be a case of whether we need whatever skill set he’s bringing to the team when I have to make that decision.”

Alapag, however, must first express his own interest in playing again after retiring from the national team and the PBA last year and early this year, respectively. 

“It will be up to him first,” Baldwin said. “If he gives me a nod and says I want to be in this roster, I want to be in your final 12 then it’s up to me.” 

“Oh yes, absolutely. Absolutely,” Alapag quickly answered when asked if he would go for it one more time. “If ever he decides that there’s a shortage of point guards then I’d be willing.”

The veteran point guard last saw action for Gilas in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Before that he inspired and impressed at the FIBA World Cup in Spain as the smallest guy on the floor who pushed the Philippines to its first World Cup win in 4 decades. 

In the 2013 continental championship, Alapag hit the biggest three-point shot of his career against South Korea, which effectively ended the so-called “Korean curse” and won Gilas the silver medal.

Alapag has been a vital cog, arguably even an icon, for the national team over the past decade. And as he participated in drilles and guarded younger guys like Gabe Norwood and Jayson Castro, Alapag looked like he’s still got it in him.

. @JAlapag3 and @GNorwood5. Jimmy's still got it. #Gilas pic.twitter.com/3SbYBPKY0m — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) August 5, 2015

“It’s a huge responsibility when you put on a Gilas jersey,” the 5-foot-7 2011 PBA MVP said. “And I told him (Baldwin) I want come in here and join practice, then I’m going to come in here and compete and do my best to get ready for myself and for my team.”

Gilas continues to reel from missing players such as June Mar Fajardo (injured feet), Kelly Williams (injured knee), Marc Pingris (scheduled trip) and LA Tenorio (fatigue). Ranidel de Ocampo is also nursing an injury before returning to practice.

Only time will tell if the Philippines will again see the Mighty Mouse firing shots from his own three-point line on the international stage. 

“Hunger may develop in that guy where he’s going to demand a spot in this team and when it does develop that way it’ll be interesting,” Baldwin pointed out.

“If just continues to say to me, ‘coach if you need me call on me.’ Then that will be fine. But if all of a sudden I see that twinkle in his eye then there might be some fireworks out there worth watching.” – Rappler.com