GILAS Pilipinas guard Kevin Alas said the recent sixth-place finish in Dubai spurred him and the rest of the national cadet players to work even harder for the 19th Super Kung Sheung Cup in Hong Kong.
The end result was a five-game sweep of the Hong Kong tournament, capped by a come-from-behind 81-77 win against deposed champion Southern California Fukien Association (SCFA) in the finals, and an MVP trophy for the young Letran star.
The six-foot Alas said playing for the national team is a dream come true - and bringing honor and glory to the country in an overseas tournament makes the experience even more special.
“First, it was my dream to play for the national team, then, siyempre, winning a crown is the happiest experience I’ve had so far,” the 21-year-old Alas told Spin.ph after the title-clinching victory.
While the Filipinos were bowling over the opposition by an average winning margin of 38.25 points during the first four games that included the 90-69 shellacking of Changsa Park Lane in the semifinals, their biggest test came at the hands of the Americans from Southern California.
“First time naming lahat halos to play against taller guys sa Dubai and here (in Hong Kong). But yun nga, I really learned a lot, to be mature and be tough,” said the son of former Letran Knights coach Louie Alas.
“Si coach Chot (Reyes), he taught us how to be tough, na kahit mga Americans daw kalaban, di daw dapat kami natatakot,” he added.
Alas hopes to contribute further to the national team’s cause in the future, now that he is part of the Gilas cadet pool that is expected to help the country defend its Southeast Asian Games basketball crown this year.