FORMER Gilas captain Jimmy Alapag was in awe upon seeing Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo hold their own against France's top-caliber guards in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Against four-time NBA champion Tony Parker and Euroleague MVP Nando de Colo, Romeo and Castro didn't back down and scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, for Gilas. They were two of three Filipino cagers, the other being naturalized center Andray Blatche, to finish in double figures.
"I thought Romeo and Castro did really well (against Parker and Co.)," said Alapag of the Filipino duo. "We're talking about a world champion and Euroleague MVP here. It's not an easy matchup."
In the end, though, it was the French guards who had the last say as their team ran away with a 93-84 victory. De Colo and Parker combined for 48 points.
But overall, the game once again served as a reminder that the Philippines is a world-class team, according to Alapag. And if the Nationals can ride the crest of this impressive performance heading into a do-or-die game against New Zealand, a victory is within reach.
"We were toe-to-toe with the fifth best team in the world... At the end we're just down four or five with a few minutes left and that's the position you wanna be in," he said.
"I think if we come out with the same effort as we did last night I think we'll give ourselves a great chance against New Zealand," added Alapag.
Gilas takes on the Tall Blacks at 9 p.m. on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.