Injuries can at times rattle a player’s morale, especially when they are major in nature and happen within a short span of time. Kevin Alas suffered two ACL tears in his right knee in less than a year and he would be the first to tell you that the road to recovery was tough to say the least.
Much is known about the physical aspect of ACL injuries both in the moment they occur and in the rehab process, but the mental side of it is something those on the outside are unable to really see. It was thus great to know that Alas had a great support system to help him bounce back both physically and mentally, with the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic also giving the 30-year old more time to further recover.
Three years after he tore the ACL in his right knee for the second time, Alas had arguably one of his best games in the NLEX Road Warriors’ 106-89 win over the Alaska Aces, which was held in the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, the same venue where Alas suffered both of his ACL tears. The former Letran Knight had 15 points in the first quarter as he converted his first three 3-point attempts and scored on some nifty layups. In fact, Alas outscored the Aces by himself for much of the opening quarter.
Although Alas scored four points the rest of the way, it didn’t really matter as the rest of Road Warriors followed his lead. NLEX scored their first 18 points from behind the 3-point line and at one point in time in the first quarter, the Road Warriors had more misses (four) than the Aces had on converted field goals (three). KJ McDaniels, who picked his spots earlier in the game, overcame an off night to lead all scorers with 27 points.
On the whole, NLEX only made 40 percent of their field goals in this game, but their offensive explosion in the opening quarter was even more exceptional considering that Alaska was one of the best defensive teams as they allowed a league-best 83 points per game entering the game against the Road Warriors. The momentum NLEX had for much of the first half was more than enough to negate the efforts of the Aces, who were also coming off a three-game winning streak.
For the conference, Alas is averaging 16.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and a steal through nine games in the 2021 Honda PBA Governor’s Cup, numbers that are easily career-highs. The sample size may be small, but his 50 percent field goal percentage and 45 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line point to a markedly improved efficiency that may come thanks to imports being allowed in this conference, but then again becomes remarkable considering the Road Warriors lost Kiefer Ravena to Japan’s B.League.
Players coming off major injuries usually take a cautious approach, but Alas has kept his aggressiveness with a more deliberate and diversified approach that also comes as the game slows down. The drives to the basket have certainly created openings for his teammates, and it has also largely contributed to how he found opportunities from behind the 3-point line.
As one of the longer-tenured veterans on the squad, Alas has also taken on more roles while at times coming off the bench. With injuries to the likes of Michael Miranda and Ravena’s move to the B.League, he has had to step up and considering that NLEX is now at 6-3, there can’t be any letups since the Road Warriors remain in the running to secure one of the top seeds in the current conference.
NLEX will continue to exercise prudence with Alas and him playing 30 minutes today with the outcome having been decided quite early is a welcome development. Some of those minutes did come during the not so meaningful portions of the game, but it likely will help keep Alas in game-shape.
Injuries are a part of the game, but at the same time, they can be grueling and tough to deal with. Kevin Alas is a great example for athletes looking for inspiration when bouncing from setbacks because as inevitable as injuries can be, what matters more is how one responds to it.