Jimmy Alapag: Gilas still needs PBA players

Published June 23, 2021, 5:12 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Jimmy Alapag during his stint as an assistant coach of the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League.

Jimmy Alapag believes Gilas Pilipinas will still need the injection of PBA players in tougher competitions like the FIBA World Cup which the country is set to host in 2023.

The Gilas legend said having experienced pro cagers is going to help a great deal for the youthful national side that exceeded expectations last week by winning all three games in the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, including a pair of triumphs over old rival South Korea.

“If you look at these first three games, it’s really, really impressive for this team. And for me, this really is the next generation of Gilas,” Alapag said during the online episode of Hoops Life.

“But I do think when you talk about playing against the world-class teams, your Serbias, your Croatias, your Argentinas, I think that you’ll need some professional guys there. And nothing against this team, they’re all great young players. But I do think when in terms of the veteran leadership, the experience, I think somewhere down the road you gonna have to include…again this is again up to coach Tab and the staff…whether half the team or four or five guys, whatever the case might be I do think you gonna need the guys who’ve been there before.

“Again, that’s gonna be a challenge for the coaching staff which veteran guys and how they can get the veteran guys to kinda find that chemistry with this group because they’re starting already. And of course, there’s also the challenges with the PBA schedule and so forth.

“But I do think in preparation for let’s say the World Cup two years from now, from now until then you’ll definitely need to find a way to include some of the pro guys,” Alapag concluded.

There’s been debate among fans and observers if there’s still a necessity to add PBA players after the Gilas team composed of UAAP players and PBA draftees who are part of the national pool performed well in the Clark bubble.

But coach Tab Baldwin initially had six PBA players in the final window, namely NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena and Raul Soyud, San Miguel Beer’s CJ Perez, TNT’s RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario, Phoenix’s Justin Chua.

The six were supposed to play when the third window was initially slated for February, only for that plan to be scrapped following delays in the continental qualifiers coupled with their commitments to train with their respective PBA ballclubs.

Alapag had an experience being among the PBA cagers who reinforced an all-amateur Gilas squad back in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship when the Philippines placed fourth overall in the event held in Wuhan, China.