JC Intal is hardly bothered people were surprised by his inclusion in the 16-man training pool of Gilas Pilipinas.
For the nine-year PBA veteran, the stint in the national team meant proving himself that he indeed, belong.
“I am going ninth year in the PBA. It’s a big blessing for me. And I thank the Lord that I got included,” said the Barako Bull wingman. “Bunga ito ng hardwork at pagtyatyaga. Siguro na-recognize nila 'yung nalaro ko last year. And I am very thankful ako na na-include ako.”
The no. 4 overall pick during the 2007 PBA Draft recalled how he was thrilled upon being approached by then newly-appointed Gilas coach Tab Baldwin during one of the games of the Energy in the Commissioner’s Cup to tell him about his possible inclusion with the training pool.
“I got shocked. I got a word from coach Tab last conference,” he vividly remembered. “And after this season, the team manager of Gilas (Butch Antonio) texted me na start na yung practice namin a few weeks ago.”
“Inspired? Ayun, ginanahan rin of course, pero kinilabutan talaga ako nung (kay) coach Tab. Noon pa yun nung panahon pa ni (Barako import Solomon) Alabi,” he added.
That the former Ateneo stalwart was extended an invitation to join Gilas as part of the pool for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship, was understandable.
Since turning pro, Intal had his breakout season last year by registering a career best 12.78 points, 5.67 rebounds, and 1.94 assists per game, almost 20 percent better than his first season with Barangay Ginebra in 2009.
Though he did not mention it, Intal’s priorities have truly changed since he tied the knot with longtime girlfriend, ABS-CBN talent Bianca Ginzales last December. The two are now expecting their first baby.
Asked if he thinks he’s showing is just a flash in the pan, Intal quickly shook his head.
“Of course, di na magbabago laro,” he said. “I am just very positive right now, kahit na medyo kulang kulang kami. We’re all brothers here and we’re one big family.”
“So far it’s a great experience of course. For me, it’s an honor and a privilege for me and my family na na-include ako dito sa Gilas,” added Intal.
As for his chances of making Gilas’ final roster to the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifier, Intal would rather not dwell on it at the moment.
“Chances? Nothing of the top 12 right now (as my priority). I am part of the 16-man pool. I am just thankful and very blessed. If ma-include ako dun (final 12 roster), I’ll be very happy and thankful.
“But right now, all I can do is to work out sa practice and contribute as much as I can,” he said before leaving the Meralco gym with wife Bianca.
[See interview of Intal here:]