Kieffer Alas out, Champ Arejola in for Gilas in FIBA U17 WC

Kieffer Alas will sit out the FIBA U17 World Cup due to an ACL sprain. Inspire Sports Academy (file photo) 
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Kieffer Alas, who is expected to be the main man for Gilas Pilipinas' youth squad, will sit out the FIBA U17 World Cup.

FIBA announced on Friday that Alas was scratched from Gilas' final roster for the World Cup and Champ Arejola will take over his spot.

Gilas Youth head coach Josh Reyes confirmed on Friday night that the La Salle Zobel standout suffered a knee injury during the Nationals' last tune-up game against Canada but luckily, it was not a serious one.

“On initial examination by our team doctor, he had a functionally stable knee and the official result of his MRI determined Kieffer has a sprained ACL,” said Reyes.

Reyes said that Alas, whose family has a dreaded history of ACL tears, will rest his knee for at least three weeks.

Aside from Arejola, high school stars Joaquin Ludovice, Jaime Gomez De LiaƱo, and Irus Chua are expected to step up in Alas' absence.

Completing the Gilas Youth lineup are Noah Banal, Elijah Williams, Paul Diao, Bonn Daja, Kurt Velasquez, Samuel Alegre, Cletz Amos, and Edryn Morales.

Gilas is grouped with Lithuania, Spain, and Puerto Rico in Group A.

Gilas will play Lithuania and Spain back-to-back during the weekends before returning to action on Tuesday against Puerto Rico.

Tough break for Kieffer Alas in U17 WC buildup

Alas' ACL sprain was the latest in his series of tough breaks in Gilas' final preparations for the FIBA U17 World Cup.

According to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Alas missed Gilas' first tune-up game against Egypt upon arrival in Istanbul due to a stomach illness.

Just when Alas was already cleared to play again for Gilas, Guinea decided to beg off from their supposed friendly.

Luckily, Gilas and Canada agreed to hold a tune-up game, and according to Reyes, Gilas was already leading against Canada when Alas sprained his left ACL during the second quarter.

“We were playing really good basketball at that point. We used our new sets, played good defense, and rebounded well against a team with four players taller than 6-foot-8. It really felt that the teams starter believing we could compete at this level,” Reyes said.

However, he said that Gilas would not let Alas' injury derail them.

"It’s a tough break for us but the rest of the team is motivated to play together," Reyes said.

“We have to move forward and quickly figure out how to play without him.”

With one day left from game time, though, Gilas might need to act now.

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