THE first time he suited up for the Philippine team in 2007, Gabe Norwood was among the younger players.
It was no longer the case on Thursday.
As he saw new faces at the Upper Deck gym in Gilas' first practice for the Fiba Asia Cup, Norwood realized that, at 32, he was the oldest in the pool.
The thought was as strange as it was exciting for the George Mason alum, but he was thrilled nonetheless to team up with cadets Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, and Carl Bryan Cruz.
"I'm the oldest one," he said with a laugh. "Jimmy (Alapag) even asked me if was the oldest one and I said, 'Yeah! I guess I am.'"
"It was fun. It was fun to get back into the system and meet the guys, new faces and some old faces, the coaching staff, and even the utility. It's good to have the flag back on my chest," he added.
The emergence of the young guns is a good sign for Philippine basketball, according to Norwood, who is returning to the national team after missing the Seaba Championships in Manila last summer.
"I've been watching a lot of college basketball for awhile, both the UAAP and the NCAA. These are guys I've followed since I've been here," the Rain or Shine guard said.
"Beyond the court, seeing their instinct is impressive, it's a good sign for the future."
Now he also needs to be the most vocal person on the court - a role that comes with being the most experienced cager in the team bound for the August 8-20 showcase in Beirut, Lebanon.
"I felt that I was always vocal. It used to be Jimmy for us then I tried to be that guy a little bit more. I took it upon myself if they needed someone to speak if we needed to," said the Gilas captain.