Amid pullouts, Alapag still confident of current Gilas pool
There’s a high probability that Gilas Pilipinas will be without June Mar Fajardo and fellow Gilas mainstays Marc Pingris and LA Tenorio when the Philippines goes for an Olympic berth in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship in China next month.
But former Gilas captain and current assistant coach Jimmy Alapag would rather focus on the players more than willing to suit up for the national team.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to go with the guys who are here and the guys who are here will fight and will bleed for our country because that’s what everyone expects from us,” Alapag said after Gilas wrapped up its first official practice Monday night. “We would expect no less from each other.”
“At the end of the day, we’re going to go with the guys who are here and the guys who are here will fight and will bleed for our country because that’s what everyone expects from us. We would expect no less from each other.”
Alapag admitted he would certainly love for Fajardo, Pingris and Tenorio to be with the team given their caliber and their experience in the international game.
But at the same time, Alapag, who is willing to come out of retirement and serve for the country if needed, said he respects whatever the decision his former teammates make.
“It’s no secret what those guys bring to the team. June Mar is the back-to-back MVP of our league and Ping’s play speaks for itself, how hard he fights on top of the effort that he gives,” Alapag said. “In a perfect world we’d love for them to be here.”
“But due to health reasons, personal reasons whatever it might be, you respect it, you hope that they’re okay and hope that they can find there way here. If not, we know that they’ll be supporting us and you know we’ll hold the fort down for them and there’s still a job to be done and we have to fight with the guys that are here,” he added.
Fajardo, the two-time PBA MVP, has already made himself clear that he’ll be “skipping Gilas duties for now” as he recuperates from plantar fasciitis on both feet.
Pingris, one of the PBA’s most versatile defenders, is still on leave while dealing with personal matters and Tenorio, who’s supposed to take the leadership reins from Alapag, had already begged off from the team citing injury and drop in form.
The 37-year-old Alapag has the utmost trust in the current team, which is composed of veterans and fast-rising stars.
Alapag expressed excitement over the young players in the pool in Globalport guard Terrence Romeo, who was recently awarded as the PBA’s Most Improved Player after leading the league in scoring, and Alaska’s ferocious forward Calvin Abueva.
Plus the fact that Romeo, Abueva, rookie Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and amateur star Troy Rosario will be learning a lot not only from him but also from the presence of the 42-year-old Asi Taulava, veteran sharpshooter Dondon Hontiveros and the other veterans on the team.
“Those newer guys give us a lot of speed a lot of versatility and a huge scoring punch with someone like Terrence,” he said.
“It’s exciting. I think there’s a good mix here of elderly statesmen like Asi and myself and Dondon, and guys who have been around for a while now like Jayson, Del (De Ocampo) and Gabe (Norwood) and again, infusing some of the young talent with Terrence, Calvin, Aldrech (Ramos) and Troy. So a good mix and we have a lot of work to do in the next seven weeks or so for China.” CFC
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