Kevin Alas finally plays at Ynares after second ACL injury

ANTIPOLO -- Wednesday's NLEX game marked an important step for Kevin Alas, who took the floor at the Ynares Center 10 days after he was supposed to make his PBA Governors' Cup debut here.

Some hesitation was understandable for the 28-year-old guard when he played his second game of the season-ending conference. Alas has already torn his right ACL twice in his PBA career -- first during the 2018 Philippine Cup semifinals, and the second on the same knee last February, just five games after his return -- and both injuries happened in this same venue.

This prompted Alas to postpone a supposed Nov. 10 debut at Ynares, though he said he knew this time he had no choice but to face and overcome this mental hurdle. "Honestly I've gotten past it. I know there's nothing else I can do, and of course we have PBA schedules in Ynares. To be honest, personally there's some psychological factor every time I come here that at the back of my head, I remember the two instances that happened here. But that's life. I just have to get past this phase," he admitted after the game.

His Ynares performance against the Alaska Aces yielded the same results from his conference debut last week against the NorthPort Batang Pier: a lone turnover on his sheet in seven scoreless minutes that eventually ended up in an NLEX loss.

While Alas is admittedly chomping at the bit for more time on the court, he says he understands that all of this is a process he needs to approach one step at a time.

"Of course, it's a process, but physically I'm 100 percent ready. It's just the mind, the psychological [aspect] that I'll be battling myself. I've been taking this process slowly and gradually. Hopefully I get past this sooner or later," Alas shared.

"I'm taking it slowly. As much as I want to play longer, I have to be patient," he added. "I have to be patient with the process because if I rush things and force myself to play more minutes, something bad might happen. I just have to trust the process."

Alas is also easing the pressure on himself to deliver big-time for NLEX and said he's focused more on recovering and settling into a lesser role with the Road Warriors.

"At this point in my career, yes I have to work hard but the recovery is important," he said. "I won't pressure myself to deliver certain type of numbers, like I need to have this certain number of points and assists. I'll do whatever role coach Yeng (Guiao) will give me. At the same time, I'm taking this approach very slowly because I don't want to pressure myself."