Very special group of kids --- FIBA World Cup veteran Jimmy Alapag

Mark Escarlote on Jun 16, 2015 10:33 AM
Very special group of kids -- World Cup veteran Jimmy Alapag
They are a very, very special group of kids. They work extremely hard and they enjoyed playing with each other --- Jimmy Alapag

SINGAPORE --- Gilas cadet team manager Jimmy Alapag has nothing but praise for the young squad after playing like veterans against teams composed of professional players in the 28th Southeast Asian Games.

The retired PBA player and one of the 40 PBA Greatest players said that he saw himself in every player of the team when he was just starting to feel what Philippine basketball was about in 2002 when he attended a tryout for the national squad for the Busan Asian Games.

“These last two tournaments, the SEABA and the SEA Games are really a learning experience for these kids. They are just starting their journeys as basketball players ending their amateur careers here and eventually being pros here,” said the former Talk ‘N Text point guard in an interview amidst the celebration Monday night after the Gilas cadets’ 72-64 win over Indonesia for the country’s 11th straight gold medal and 17th overall.

The 2003 10th overall pick gave a small pre-game talk to the squad, composed of the country’s top collegiate player and backed by naturalized player Marcus Douthit, before the championship game to ease the pressure from the team that had a rough road on its way to the finals.

And his little pep talk did wonders as the team led by Kiefer Ravena, Mark Belo and Troy Rosario delivered the mint and stayed composed in a tight match to put a smile to every Filipino that flocked the OCBC Arena Hall 1 inside the sprawling Singapore Sports Hub where the closing ceremonies of the two-week conclave will be held Tuesday night.

“They are a very, very special group of kids. They work extremely hard and they enjoyed playing with each other,” said the 37-year-old Alapag, who didn’t make the cut because of an injury in the then Jong Uichico-mentored 2002 Asiad squad that fell a win short of a podium finish.

And coming from a former national team member, who led Gilas Pilipinas to the FIBA World Cup in Spain last year, believes that the PHI will remain a powerhouse in the region as long as the country produces kids like the Gilas cadets.

Watch the full interview here:

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