Kevin Alas will forever be proud of his Letran roots, but there were actually a few times when the gunslinging point guard considered leaving the walled city of Intramuros to take his act somewhere else.
Speaking in 2OT, presented by SMART and supported by Phenom Sportswear, Alas revealed that he had actually been training with De La Salle University after wrapping up his high school career with the Squires.
“Actually after high school ko, I was already practicing with La Salle na. For two months siguro,” he told the podcast hosted by veteran broadcasters Carlo Pamintuan and Magoo Marjon.
Alas recalled that he was with the Green Archers for several months, but it was during one their scrimmages that he realized that he might not have the opportunity he was looking for, given the team’s talent.
Back then, the Franz Pumaren-coached team was reeling from the graduation of JVee Casio and the departure of Rico Maierhofer, but it had guys like Arvie Bringas, LA Revilla, James Mangahas, and Bader Malabes.
“A week before, parang bibiyahe ‘yung whole team for Chicago for their off-season training camp. Then we’re playing scrimmages, then nararamdaman ko parang I wouldn’t get this opportunity ‘pag nag-stay ako’,” the 6-foot-2 Alas shared.
“So last minute, I decided. Nagpaalam ako to coach Franz na, ‘Coach, papaalam na po ako kasi parang I feel na I won’t get this opportunity if I stay here’.”
So he left the hustling and bustling Taft Avenue and went back to Letran. But Alas revealed that even if he was with the Knights already, there was still an attempt to lure him out of there.
Ateneo, he said, tried to get his services after his rookie year in 2009. He actually even met with Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black and team manager Paolo Trillo.
They met over lunch, he recalled, and he was even accompanied by none other than his father, decorated coach Louie. And he admitted that he seriously thought about taking his talents to Katipunan.
“After nung rookie year ko, I was recruited also ng Ateneo. Parang nag-lunch na kami ni coach Norman tsaka ni sir Paolo Trillo dati, sa BGC pa before. Actually kasama dad ko nun ah, then coach na siya sa Letran nun,” he recalled.
“Nung una, parang napapaisip ako na gusto kong pumunta ng Ateneo. Siyempre, as a kid, parang gusto mo UAAP school — siyempre ‘yung hype andun lahat. So, napag-isipan ko.”
On the other hand, he couldn’t simply leave Letran. He also thought that there was no other place that would provide the best opportunities for him, so once again, he decided to stay put.
“Pero last minute my heart said na parang feeling ko Letran gave me this opportunity na… ‘Yun na nga, ganda nung rookie year ko, ganda ng high school career ko roon,” he said.
“So, feeling ko dito pa rin sa Letran ‘yung makakakuha ako ng magandang opportunity para maglaro.”
Alas, though, made it clear that his dad did not try to influence him with his decisions. He clarified that the veteran mentor — who coached Letran during his time — was allowing him to decide on his own.
“Hinahayaan niya ako,” he said. “Siguro kung magkamali ako, I can learn from it, and kung maganda naman desisyon ko, he’s always there to support me. My dad naman, never ako pinressure to make a decision.”
There is no denying, though, that Alas made a good decision. It was with Letran that he became one of the NCAA’s best guards, winning two Mythical Five selections and leading the Knights to the Season 88 Finals.
He then went on to have a solid career after college. He later became a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and a PBA D-League MVP, before taking his act to the pros in 2014. There, he was the second overall pick by Rain or Shine.
He was then traded to the Talk N Text Tropang Texters, before eventually finding a home with the NLEX Road Warriors in 2015. Since then, he has become one of the pillars of the franchise coached by Yeng Guiao.
For Alas, now entering his seventh season in the pros, he wouldn’t have come this far in his career if he decided to leave Letran during those times when the opportunity was in front of him.
“I’m really blessed na nag-stay ako with Letran,” said the 28-year-old.
“Kasi feeling ko I wouldn’t be here today if lumipat ako ng school.”
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