Kevin Alas showed his steely resolve after enduring a bloodied nose to help NLEX pull off a massive upset in the PBA Philippine Cup and deal the mighty TNT its first defeat.
Alas churned out 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals as NLEX picked up an important win after starting its campaign in the PBA bubble in Pampanga with a dismal 1-5 record.
"Kevin is our team captain. He was elected by the team and he showed why they elected him as team captain," said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao.
"He showed his leadership, not by mere words, but by action."
Alas got hurt after a collision with TNT veteran Jayson Castro and he had to get patched up at halftime due to the blood coming out of his nose.
Guiao decided to sit Alas out for the first 7 minutes of the second half before he subbed in, scoring 5 straight points to give NLEX a 75-67 lead going into the last quarter.
Alas then unloaded 10 points in the final frame, including the free throw and the layup in the last 40 seconds that essentially secured their win.
"There was a lot of blood," Guiao said. "Our trainers did a good job stopping the blood. When I asked him if he can play, he told me he can."
"Kevin is a warrior. Maybe that is why we're the Road Warriors. Kevin is a warrior and he showed his leadership. He showed what stuff he is made of, and I'm proud of him."
As NLEX sat at 11th place prior to the game, Alas knew the team badly needed a win if it wanted to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
Fortunately, his teammates also responded, with Jericho Cruz finishing with 19 points, Kiefer Ravena racking up 16 points and 9 rebounds, and JR Quiñahan putting up 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists.
"I told them that we should win this. I did not know how to motivate the team so I just said that we should just give our best offensively and defensively – dive for the ball and get every rebound," Alas said.
"Credit to my teammates because we really worked hard for this win." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.