For a moment, there was a chance Kevin Alas might not have made it to the Asian Games.
Alas’ accreditation papers along with that of Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Arvin Tolentino came in moments before their plane for China took off. It certainly added more uncertainty to what was already an uncertain next few weeks for Gilas Pilipinas. Thankfully, it was all worth it and the Philippines broke a 61-year drought to strike gold in the Asian Games.
As nerve-wracking as that situation was, though, Alas has gone through tougher times.
Alas tore the right ACL in his knee twice, first in March 2018 and then again in February 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed him to fully recover once and for all, until a nasal fracture and a sprained ankle made it a shaky 2022 for the 31-year old.
After battling those health issues, it was his turn to care for his wife, former courtside reporter Selina Dagdag, who faced her own medical crisis. Thankfully, Dagdag was able to overcome that battle with Alas never leaving her side.
Encountering these obstacles can certainly be daunting, and those experiences only made Alas appreciate what he had both on and off the court. If anything, it puts things into perspective.
In the 2022-2023 PBA season, Alas averaged career-highs in points per game (16.7), field goal percentage (48.2) and 3-point shooting percentage (37.1). Part of it was the increased opportunities with Kiefer Ravena’s move to Japan, but it also came as the game slowed down for him. He was one of the leaders on an NLEX Road Warriors squad that made the postseason twice but unfortunately could not get past the first round of the playoffs.
It may be easy to point to the production as the main reason Gilas head coach Tim Cone brought Alas in (aside from being a former Gilas Pilipinas player), but it was his oncourt activity that ended up to be the deciding factor. Undersized as he was, Alas repaid Cone’s faith in him with his relentless drives, blowing by opponents and their expectations.
The semifinal game against Asian Games host China was perhaps’ Alas’ signature moment, as he was Cone’s “magic bunot” during the Philippines’ run. He helped give Justin Brownlee space to operate and knock down a much-needed 3-pointer, then proceeded to knock down a 3-pointer of his own to further cut the Chinese lead. Later on, he made China’s defenders go around in circles, before finishing with a layup.
With an Asian Games gold medal in tow, Alas can now look forward to some rest before beginning his ninth PBA season. He comes in with a lot of motivation and opportunities to shine once again, but it may be wise for him to ease himself in, more so as he hopes to lead the Road Warriors to long postseason runs. Down the road, he could again be called for national team duty.
Kevin Alas is an Asian Games gold medalist and no one can take that away from him. The journey he went through to earn it was far from easy, but it molded him for the big moments with Gilas Pilipinas, where he has performed well.