Jimmy Alapag to Gilas: Compete v France, but enjoy experience

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Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, France’s “Big Three,” will test the mettle of Gilas Pilipinas when the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament kicks off Tuesday night before an expected full house crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

While the French trio have rich experience playing basketball internationally, former Gilas team captain Jimmy Alapag is convinced that in a one-game scenario, anything can happen.

“Obviously, the one thing that stands out there is, they (French team) don’t have Parker (the first time they played against them in 2014) and this time, they don’t have (Nicolas) Batum.  And those roles are reversed because Batum isn’t playing and Parker is here,” Alapag told FOX Sports.

“But I feel in a one-game scenario, anything can happen.  Obviously, the (Gilas) team will have to get off for a great start and I think that would set the tone for the game.”

The 5-foot-7 Alapag still vividly remembered how Gilas gave France some blushes 2 years ago when they met for the first time in a pocket tournament in Antibes.

The Filipinos led by as much as 7 points early in the fourth period, before eventually disintegrating on defense, allowing Batum to take over as the Les Bleus escaped with a 75-68 win.

Nonetheless, Alapag reminded the Gilas players not to be too tight when they start the game against France.

Instead, try to enjoy the moment, play well and compete the way they should even if France has several NBA players at its disposal.

“It was great seeing the guys again and my advice to them was to just go out there Tuesday night and compete and enjoy this experience,” said Alapag, who capped his national team stint with an 18-point-4-rebound-4-assist performance to help Gilas beat Senegal in overtime, 81-79 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain. — By Richard Dy