Alapag to Chot bashers: It's unfair criticism
Alder Almo (The Philippine Star) - September 30, 2014 - 6:55pm

INCHEON, South Korea – Gilas Pilipinas team captain Jimmy Alapag finally broke his silence following the turn of events that led to their disappointing finish in the 17th Asian Games here.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes took full responsibility of all the decisions made in the tournament and as expected, drew the biggest flak. With the call to resign mounting from outraged fans and critics online, Alapag came to his coach's defense.

"It's unfair criticism. Obviously, the result here in Korea wasn't what we had planned. We were hopeful to compete for the gold medal. But again a lot of unexpected things happened, from Andray's eligibility issue, to having Marcus back after pretty much two to three months layoff, and on top of that the injuries,” Alapag told on Tuesday.

“But then again, it's not an excuse. The guys continued to fight, gave everything they had but for this particular tournament, it wasn't enough," he added.

Reyes drew the sharpest criticisms when he called out naturalized player Marcus Douthit after a lackluster effort against Qatar, which the national team coach branded as "un-Filipino."

"For me, it was something that we didn't anticipate to happen, to lose to Qatar. But at the end of the day, we're all humans and people make mistakes and I don't think anybody from our team questions Marcus' commitment to Gilas but at the same time, you have to respect the coach. He (Chot) will always do what is the best for the team. That was a choice and we, as a team, supported it," said Alapag referring to the controversial benching of Douthit during the Korea game for disciplinary reasons.

The players initiated a meeting back at the Athletes Village that night with the coaching staff and arrived at decision to play against Korea without Douthit.

"We were all upset. Obviously, we knew how important that Qatar game was. But again, Qatar played well and we weren't good enough to win that night. That falls on all of us. It's not about pointing finger at Marcus or pointing finger at coach. We're all in this together," Alapag said.

Gilas lost to Qatar, 77-68, were Douthit was not in his element and did not even bother to join the team in their post-game huddle at center court.

Douthit immediately apologized for his actions but was still meted out an indefinite suspension.

The next day, Gilas squandered a 16-point lead and lost a heartbreaker, 97-95, to host Korea that spelled doom for their medal hopes.

"We would've loved to have Marcus back in the game but we respected coach's decision. Even without Marcus, we gave ourselves a chance to win that game but we came up short," Alapag said.

Douthit's suspension was lifted when the players asked for his reinstatement after Kazakhstan beat Qatar, leaving the door open for Gilas to sneak in the semis via the backdoor. The 6-10 naturalized center returned with a redemption game, but it was not enough to help Gilas cover the 11-point margin needed to get the best quotient in the triple tie-break.

They will wrap up their Asiad campaign on Wednesday against Mongolia in the battle for seventh place. Win or lose, it will be the country's worst finish in the Asian Games history.

Despite not meeting the expectations, Alapag has rallied the team to be united.

"No matter what, we've had success together and in tournaments like this that we didn't get the results as expected, we still stand together as a team," Alapag said.

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