Fiba ban chance for other players to step up for Gilas, says Alapag
MACAU—Gilas Pilipinas suffered a massive hit when Fiba suspended 10 of its players following the ugly brawl that transpired in the 2018 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifier against Australia.
That leaves the national team basically without its core for the second round of the qualifiers, but Jimmy Alapag, one of the program’s most prominent figures, believes Gilas can still bounce back.
Alapag, who was a mainstay in the national team for much of his playing career, said there’s still a ton of talent in Philippine basketball who can take the place of those who were suspended.
“I think one of the advantages of the Gilas pool is that even despite the situation, hopefully, there are still guys who will be available to play in the next Fiba window,” said Alapag, who is present at Asia League Super 8 being played at Macau East Asian Games Dome here.
“It’s unfortunate with the suspensions, but hopefully it’s something we can learn and grow from, and we’ll still be able to put up a competitive team. Obviously, there’s still a lot of great talent that we have in our country.”
Of the 12 Gilas players who suited up for the game against the Boomers, only captain Gabe Norwood, Baser Amer, Allein Maliksi, and June Mar Fajardo were spared from the suspensions. Jio Jalalon, who wasn’t part of the final 12, got a three-game ban after he joined the brawl and was seen throwing punches.
Whoever Gilas decides to field in, it has to decide quickly with its next game against Iran coming up on September 13.
“It will be a challenge,” said Alapag, who won the silver with Gilas in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship. “Missing some of the top guys, but again, it’s a great opportunity for the guys who have been part of the pool that may not have necessarily played a tournament as of yet.”
Players like Raymond Almazan, Kevin Ferrer, and Mac Belo are part of the Gilas program but haven’t represented the country in Fiba tournaments.
“There’s nothing like a chance to play for the country, especially in a Fiba event,” said Alapag. “At the end of the day, you don’t want to see anything like that happen for us and Australia because we’re pros, we’re national athletes.”
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