Kevin Alas and the closest things to a NBA dream
by rick olivares
Kevin Alas knows that it’s a one-in-a-million shot to play in the NBA.
He might be living in a small corner of Asia but for everyone who has dribbled a basketball, the ultimate dream is to play in the NBA. “Of course, when you get older, you become more realistic and you adjust your dream to playing for the PBA and the national team,” the young point guard admits. “And it’s not that bad.”
Over two years ago, he had the opportunity to train with the ABA’s Los Angeles Slam that featured some former NBA players in Mike Penberthy and Tony Farmer, as well as former Houston Rocket Juaquin Hawkins.
Alas, who starred for Letran College in the Philippines’ equivalent of the NCAA, said that it was an eye opener. “Not only is the competition much tougher but the players are bigger and faster. I had a hard time but given time I would have adjusted to that style of play and hopefully, done better.”
Yet even if the NBA dream is far-fetched, he’s been blessed to meet some of his basketball idols in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
The young Filipino basketball player admits to being a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan and more so of Bryant that meeting him during his most recent trip to the Philippines where he promoted Lenovo laptops was a thrill of the lifetime.
Now running the one-spot for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA’s D-League (and after having come off a successful gold medal stint in the recent Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar), Alas is happy to see an influx of NBA talent passing through the Pearl of the Orient. “I think it’s good that the NBA and the world’s best basketball players recognize the Philippines as a rabid basketball country. I think we’re being rewarded for our love for the game. And I am more than a basketball player, I am a fan as well. To be given the opportunity to meet Kobe, playing a Shooting Stars game with former Lakers great AC Green, and to play a scrimmage game with LeBron James is the closest thing to NBA heaven for me.”
James was in Manila during the last off-season on a promotional tour by Nike. When Green was here a year ago, Alas and other college players took part in a game where teams had to make baskets from different parts of the floor. The last shot was from midcourt. The team that accomplished the task in the shortest possible time won the competition that was a side event of the Jr. NBA’s culminating activity.
“If LeBron is one of the lucky few to play in the NBA then I am one of the lucky few to be on a basketball court with him and play some basketball,” gushed Alas.
What many people did not see was post that scrimmage was James took some shooting practice by himself to an almost empty Mall of Asia Arena, the site of match as well as the first ever NBA pre-season game that saw the Houston Rockets defeat the Indiana Pacers.
“He was on vacation and he really didn’t have to work out but he did,” marveled Alas of James’ work ethic. “He just kept shooting and shooting.”
“Here’s a certified NBA superstar and he’s shooting dozens, maybe a hundred jumpshots. I work hard as it is but seeing that inspired me. You never take a day off if you want to be great.”
Despite his busy schedule with NLEX and the national team, Alas finds the time to watch NBA games on television. “If I miss a game, there’s always the internet to check on the score and watch the highlights,” adds the youngster.
“The NBA dream is faraway but events like these are the closest thing to a NBA heaven as I will ever get.”