GILAS cadet mainstay Kevin Alas believes heart and the will to win are what’s going to spur the national team in its mission to defend the basketball gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games this December.
Despite a number of players belonging to the national training pool opting out to make themselves available in the coming PBA rookie draft, Alas is convinced the team can get the job done in the December 11-22 showpiece in Myanmar.
Among those in the original pool who applied for the draft were RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, and Raymund Almazan, while others such as La Salle big man Arnold Van Opstal and Fil-Italian guard Chris Banchero have yet to commit themselves to the national team.
“Kailangan lang naman namin ng back-up for Marcus (Douthit). Yung cadet ngayon, magkakasama na naman. Magkasama na din naman kami sa NLEX (in the PBA D-League). Sa akin, iba `yung lalaban kami ng may puso,” the 6-foot Alas told Spin.ph.
Alas, who decided against filing his own application for the rookie draft, has been part of the Gilas cadet squad along with shooters Ronald Pascual, Garvo Lanete and forwards Matt Rosser and Jake Pascual.
The four are also teammates with NLEX in the D-League.
Alas, who scored a season-best 43 points in last season’s NCAA Final Four for Letran, said he can’t wait to get his feet wet again for the national team especially in the coming SEA Games, which the men’s basketball team has dominated ever since.
Alas had his baptism of fire for the national team by playing in two international club tournaments early this year -- the Dubai International Basketball Championship where Gilas placed sixth after being reinforced by PBA players KG Canaleta, Ronjay Buenafe, and Jay-R Reyes.
“Sa Dubai po `yung first international (tournament) ko. Malalakas `yung mga kalaban namin dun kasi po may mga two or three imports `yung mga club teams,” recalled the son of Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas.
The dismal showing in Dubai obviously challenged Alas, as a week later he led the Gilas quintet to a five-game sweep of the 19th Super Kung Sheung Cup in Hong Kong.
Alas, who turns 22 next month, was named the tournament MVP, playing big in Gilas’ come-from-behind 81-77 win against deposed champion Southern California Fukien Association (SCFA) in the Finals.