JIMMY Alapag declared months before that the 27th Fiba-Asia men’s championships will be his last tour of duty for the national team.
Well, change of plans.
With Gilas Pilipinas finishing second behind newly crowned Fiba-Asia champion Iran, the diminutive veteran point guard has reconsidered his decision and wants to be part of the Philippine team that will be returning to the World Cup for the first time in 35 years.
“I’d love to be part of it (Gilas team in World Cup). It’s gonna be a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I’ll talk to coach Chot (Reyes) about it and the rest of the coaching staff because I’d love to be in the team,” the 5-8 sweet-shooting point guard said.
“I love to be with the guys. I hope we can continue to play further in international basketball.”
Alapag is the most senior member of this Gilas batch at 35, and the Manila showpiece marked his third Fiba-Asia men’s championship stint, having been a part of Reyes' all-pro team in 2007 in Tokushima as well as Rajko Toroman's pro-reinforced team in 2011 in Wuhan.
But he has all the right to be in the team bound for next year's Fiba World Cup in Spain.
The Talk 'N Text veteran was one of the main reasons why Gilas was able to punch a ticket to Spain, his clutch three-pointers and daring drives keeping the hosts' head above water in a dramatic 86-79 win over Korea in the semifinal round on Saturday night.
He was also one of only two double-digit scorers in the gold-medal match against Iran, scoring 13 points including two on a memorable drive against Iran's 7-2 center Hamed Hadadi.
Alapag said the tournament gave him a new high.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of being a Filipino. And I couldn’t have been more proud of my teammates. I know it’s been a tough 11 days,” said the former PBA MVP.
“I told the guys we have to leave our heart and soul on court. And I think we absolutely did that. We’ll be in Spain and I’m glad that Philippine basketball is back on the world map,” he added.