Allen Liwag did not expect to be called up by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Actually, the initial 15-man pool for Gilas Men did not have him.
But the SBP and Gilas program director Chot Reyes saw the potential in him during his rookie season with Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA, telling themselves that this kid out of Cavite was worth a look.
“Siyempre unang una di ko inexpect na nangyari sa akin na mapapasali ako sa Gilas,” the 20-year-old, 6-foot-6 agile forward said.
“Siguro gagawin ko na lang yung best ko every practice, every opportunity na bigyan ako ng mga coaches at ng mga teammate ko para mapakita ko rin na deserving ako rin na mapasali dun.”
Liwag had been a revelation over the past year.
In Gilas though, he is one of the youngest players in the pool, just ahead of Lebron Lopez and Caelum Harris.
But according to Liwag, it’s been so far, so good during the first few sessions of the team under Nenad Vucinic.
And all he hopes to do is to prove that he belongs with collegiate basketball’s elite.
“So far okay naman madali ako nakakasama sa kanila, kumbaga nakakasabay ako,” he said. “Kumbaga kasi winelcome nila ako na parang isa sa kanila.
“Di mo na kailangang isipin kung galing kang NCAA or UAAP kumbaga iisang team na rin kayo. Kailangan naming magtulungan para magkaroon ng chemistry.”