By James Velasquez
From Issue #167
Ball in his hands, shot clock winding down, down 2 points to Southern California Fukienese Association in a championship game for Smart Gilas Pilipinas with a minute remaining should be a situation Kevin Alas is familiar with.
The sweat on his brow felt the same. The thumping in his chest felt the same. The collective roar of the Hong Kong-based Filipinos sounded similar to the chorus of the Letran crowd in the NCAA back home.
Yet, the situation felt vastly different.
He’s been in this save-us-oh-Kevin situation thousands of times for Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He knows what it takes to make the big play. Unless this play, this moment, the next two points, is for something bigger.
The young guard treasures conversations with his father about life and basketball. “Si daddy kasi, more than the game, gusto niya natututo ka sa buhay.” On that night, he needed every single lesson to make the play. “’Pag ikaw binigyan ng pagkakataon to do great things, especially for things bigger than yourself, you take it.’ Lagi niyang sinasabi sa akin yun nung bata ako.”
The hesitation move he practiced for hours with dad Louie was smooth. All the motivation he received whenever his father pushed him to become better, faster, stronger, to be ready when the moment comes, allowed him to get the contact and the finish.
“Deus, Patria, Letran. God, Country, Letran. Hindi na lang ang school ang team ko. Buong Pilipinas na ang team ko ngayon.”
Kevin scored the last four points and provided the hustle plays in the end for the final count, 81-77. Gilas captured the championship trophy. He won the Most Valuable Player award. Most importantly, Kevin realized it’s time for him to wear different colors now, for a bigger cause.
“Letran ang nagturo sa akin to put God and Country above all else. That’s what I’m going to do.”
photos c/o InterAKTV, Kevin Alas