MANILA, Philippines -- Before he became a key player for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA, Kevin Alas was a scoring machine for the Letran Knights in the NCAA.
A two-time Mythical Team selection, Alas led the Knights to the NCAA Finals in Season 88, thanks in part to a sensational 43-point explosion against San Sebastian in the semifinals. They would eventually lose to San Beda in three games in the championship, after which Alas opted to forego his final year of eligibility to focus on his national team duties.
Before emerging as a star in Letran, however, Alas very nearly took his talents somewhere else.
"After high school ko, I was already practicing with La Salle na," Alas recalled during an appearance on "2OT," where he and fellow NLEX guard Jericho Cruz reminisced upon their collegiate careers and their experiences with head coach Yeng Guiao.
Alas was already a known prospect since his high school days with the Letran Squires, and had been practicing with the Green Archers for two months. He could have even joined their team for a training camp in Chicago.
That was when he came to a realization, however.
"Parang we're playing scrimmage games, then parang nararamdaman ko na siguro, I wouldn't get this opportunity kung mag-stay ako sa Letran," he said. "Kumbaga, yung talent is not rich as 'yung La Salle at that time eh."
He talked to then-La Salle coach Franz Pumaren and asked permission to leave.
"I feel na I won't get this opportunity if I stay here," he admitted. "Kumbaga, I think one of the best decisions na nangyari sa akin na hindi ako tumuloy sa La Salle."
"Nothing against La Salle, pero I'm really blessed na nag-stay ako with Letran, kasi feeling ko I wouldn't be here today if siguro lumipat ako ng school," said Alas.
Alas had one more chance to leave after his rookie season with the Knights, when he was recruited by the Ateneo Blue Eagles. He and his father, then-Letran coach Louie Alas, would even meet with former Ateneo coach Norman Black and team manager Paolo Trillo.
The guard had to admit that transferring to Ateneo was a tempting prospect.
"Napapa-isip ako, parang gusto ko pumunta ng Ateneo, siyempre as a kid parang gusto mo UAAP school, 'yung hype andoon lahat," he said.
"So napag-isipan ko, pero parang last minute, siguro my heart said na parang, feeling ko Letran gave me this opportunity na ang ganda ng rookie year ko, ang ganda ng high school career ko 'yun," he added.
"So feeling ko parang, sa Letran pa rin 'yung makakakuha ako ng magandang opportunity para maglaro eh."
Alas said that his father, now the head coach of the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters in the PBA, never tried to influence him when it came to making a decision on his choice of a collegiate team -- even though Louie Alas, then, was the coach of the Knights.
Instead, Coach Louie was always there to support him.
"My dad naman, never ako pinressure to make a decision na ganito ang gusto ko dapat. Kung alam niyang mali, a-advise niya, pero in that position naman, parang Letran is a good decision, La Salle is a good decision, Ateneo is a good decision. So, pinabayaan niya ako na mag-desisyon," said Alas.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.