SEVILLE, SPAIN – Jimmy Alapag savored the celebration at the end of Gilas Pilipinas’ 81-79 win over Senegal on Thursday, thinking it was a fitting end to his international career.
Well, that retirement may have to wait.
With injuries plaguing his lineup at the end of a historic campaign in the 2014 Fiba World Cup, Reyes is set to talk Alapag out of his retirement plans for one more run in Gilas’ quest for a gold medal in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“Mag-uusap pa kami,” said Reyes during a dinner tendered for the team by top patron Manny V. Pangilinan on Thursday night in an upscale restaurant in the heart of this city.
Reyes hinted changes may be necessary as he counted the cost of a World Cup campaign that saw Gilas acquit itself well against some of the world’s best teams but suffer injuries to players who are both in the World Cup and Asian Games lineup.
Among those nursing injuries are Jayson Castro, who banged his knee against Puerto Rico and sat out the win over Senegal, as well as Paul Lee (foot injury) and Marc Pingris (foot injury), who also played limited minutes against Senegal.
“Yes, everything is still up in the air,” said Reyes when asked about his Asiad lineup. “Ayaw kong magsalita for Jimmy, but we will have to talk.”
Asiad rules allow changes to the lineup at the last minute in cases involving injuries or medical reasons – a provision Reyes plans to cite to reshuffle his lineup before the team begins its quest for the country’s first basketball gold medal since 1962.
“Nakita naman nila dito, may injuries si Jayson, di nga nakalaro sa last game namin, as well as Paul Lee and Marc Pingris,” he said.
Alapag, 36, has shown that he deserves another run with Gilas after a courageous performance in the World Cup where he hit five second-half three-pointers in a close loss to Argentina before putting the finishing touches to the win over Senegal – the country’s first in the world championship in four decades.
Alapag had insisted after a big performance against Argentina that 'it's time to retire,' but appeared to soften up on Thursday night when asked if he is willing to put his Gilas retirement on hold in favor of another shot at the Asian Games gold
“I will meet with coach after this. We’ll see after a couple of days, but I’ve never said no to coach before, nor have I said no to management,” he said.