Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood are no longer playing for Gilas Pilipinas, but that doesn’t mean the national team is now out of mind for both veteran cagers.
On the contrary, both Alapag and Norwood remain prominent figures in terms of helping the national program. Alapag is part of Gilas’s coaching and training staff, while Norwood remains open to helping out the national team in any way.
Gilas, of course, won the 2017 SEABA Championship a few weeks ago, sweeping all 6 of their games en route to formalizing their entry to the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and the Asia Qualifiers to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. A few days after winning the SEABA crown, Gilas found out about the Draw for the FIBA Asia Cup, and both Alapag and Norwood — veterans of many international wars — gave their two cents.
“There are a lot of great teams in each group in the FIBA Asia Cup,” said Alapag. “It will be important to play well right from the start.”
“I think it’s a pretty good draw for us,” added Gabe. “Of course, a lot will depend on what the PBA decides to do with regards to the schedule, which can probably be said for every national team with the new format.”
Gilas needs to field a strong team in the FIBA Asia Cup, though unlike prior editions there are no berths in the World Cup or the Olympics at stake. Still, with the new format where the FIBA Asia Cup will happen only after four years, the prestige of the continent’s biggest and best international basketball tournament just got even more magnified.
What makes this a little challenging is the fact that the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will begin at the tail-end of the FIBA Asia Cup. This means that coach Chot Reyes and the SBP will have to form not one, but two national teams. While one team is finishing up at the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon, the other will begin their campaign at the SEA Games.
Even before these two tournaments, though, Gilas is already expected to participate in the 2017 Jones Cup, where many other tough national teams (e.g. Iran, Korea, Japan, India, Canada, Taiwan, etc.) are set to play.
Jimmy hopes that the national team will, indeed, be ready. He cannot wait to see them in action.
“I am excited for our guys though,” Alapag shared. “It will be a great test leading up to the World Cup qualifiers in November.”
The Philippines will need to get ready for the first two-game leg of the Asia Qualifiers to the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Gilas will travel to play Japan on the road on November 24 before hosting Taiwan on November 27.
Given so many games and tournaments in the second half of the year, in addition to the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup and the 2017-2018 PBA season eventually getting underway, to say that it will be an uphill climb for Gilas, the SBP, and the PBA is an understatement.
Despite that, Gabe Norwood hopes that all the stakeholders in Philippine basketball will be able to pitch in and help the national team represent the country as best as it could.
“Lord willing, Coach Chot will have the opportunity to put the best 12 out there for each game,” Norwood said.
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