MANILA, Philippines—After suffering an injury that forced him to sit out for more than 10 months, Kevin Alas is back at 100% and ready to lead the NLEX Road Warriors in the upcoming PBA Philippine Cup.
Alas tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during Game 5 of their semifinals series against Magnolia in last season's all-Filipino conference, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.
It was just one of the several blows suffered by NLEX over the course of the year, as the Road Warriors also lost top rookie Kiefer Ravena to suspension after violating WADA policies.
One half of his explosive backcourt is set to return now, however, and NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said Alas looks as good as ever.
"Kevin Alas is playing well. My anticipation was baka may psychological block pa coming from a big injury like that, being absent for eight months. It might take a little longer to get back his game," the coach said during PBA's Media Day at Solaire on Thursday afternoon.
"Pero mukhang hindi," he added. "Mukhang and'yan na 'yung laro niya agad-agad. So, maganda ang mga developments."
Alas confirmed that physically, he was now back to 100%.
"Pero 'yung game shape ko, 'yung rhythm ko, it remains to be seen," he admitted. "Sa official game ko na mage-gauge 'yung sarili ko."
Alas' return is not the only reason for Guiao's optimism regarding NLEX's campaign in the season-opening tournament. The team also acquired big man Poy Erram in a trade with Blackwater, and drafted another forward in Kris Porter.
While NLEX's chemistry is still a work in progress and the Road Warriors are still waiting for Ravena's return, Alas remains upbeat that the Road Warriors can make some noise in the Philippine Cup.
"Ang personal goal ko para sa team is ma-duplicate namin 'yung semis stint namin last Philippine Cup," Alas said.
"Of course, hoping na malagpasan pa namin 'yun," he added. "But 'yun nga, sabi ko nga na we cannot just be good on paper, dapat patunayan pa rin namin sa loob ng court."
The Road Warriors' first game is set for Friday, January 18, against Rain Or Shine.
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