WHILE the rest started to grant interviews, JC Intal began to do extra work after a two-hour Gilas Pilipinas practice on Monday night, taking some perimeter shots with a ball boy on one side of the Meralco Gym court.
Scribes had to wait for a while before getting a chance to talk with the Barako Bull star.
It was understandable. Intal was definitely relishing his opportunity in a return to the national side after donning the country’s colors in 2007.
But it was just a regional club tournament in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championships Cup in Indonesia, where Harbour Centre represented the country and expectedly ruled the tournament.
Now, Intal has a chance to crack the roster of the national team bound for the Fiba Asia Championships, the continental qualifier for the Rio Olympics next year.
And he's determined to give it his best shot.
“This is a different level,” Intal said. “It’s a dream come true. Hindi ko akalain na makakapaglaro ako dito.”
“Nung nakuha ko 'yung tawag, parang, nasa isip ko, ‘Totoo ba ’to?’” added the athletic wingman, who has been practicing under Tab Baldwin since Day One last Wednesday. “I’m very thankful to coach Tab that he gave me this opportunity.”
Intal wore a white Gilas jersey with the No. 9 on Monday night. It seemed surreal, he swore.
“Hindi ako makapaniwala na suot ko yung Gilas Pilipinas. At hindi ako makapaniwala na back to blue and white ako eh,” the former Ateneo stalwart said. “Nakaka-excite talaga yung feeling. Kasama ko pa si (former Blue Eagles) coach Norman (Black)."
And being part of the 18-man pool is already an achievement for the former Blue Eagle.
“Hindi ko na iniisip na makapasok sa final lineup,” Intal said. “I’m just happy I’m here, part of the Gilas pool. Kung papalarin na mapasama sa final lineup, I’m very thankful.
“Pero ito pa lang, ang laki na ng dinadala ko, ang laki ng ‘wow.’”
If he does crack the 12-man roster, Intal will have to be away from his pregnant celebrity wife, Bianca Gonzalez, for a while as they are expected to undergo overseas training in Europe in the next few weeks.
That's a sacrifice he is willing to make.
“I’m ready. We talked about the schedule.”
“She’s very happy and she’s very excited for me,” Intal added. “Swerte yung baby. Grabe binibigay sa amin nung bata. Sobrang inspired ako ever since nalaman ko na magkakaroon kami ng anak.
“It’s an honor for me and my family. I’m just happy to be here.”