Gabe Norwood credits former coach Yeng Guiao for long career

As Gabe Norwood enters his 12th season as a pro, the Fil-American guard/forward talked about the secret to his longevity in the PBA and his best Gilas moment during his online interview with former Phoenix guard Karl Dehesa at his Align Instagram account.

Norwood credited coach Yeng Guiao for keeping him fresh during their many years together at Rain or Shine.

"In my first two years in the league, me and Sol (Mercado) were leading the league in minutes played. But when my third year starts and when coach Yeng comes in, everybody knows with coach Yeng, he plays guys like 20 to 25 minutes a game so my minutes were almost cut into half," Norwood shared during the IG live interview on Labor Day.

"He always said, 'This is for your career. If you can get 12 guys to contribute and be on the same page, then you get extra couple years for your career,'" he added.

True enough, after averaging 37 minutes during his first two years in the PBA, his playing time eventually dropped to 32.3 minutes per contest in 2011 and 29.6 minutes the following year. His playing minutes has never gone beyond 28 minutes per game since then.

Whether he starts at guard or shifts to the forward position, Norwood has managed to contribute on offense and defense, helping the Rain or Shine franchise to a pair of PBA championships during the 2012 and 2016 Governors' Cup.

"I can get going and play for Gilas anytime because I know I don't get burned out," shared the 35-year-old Norwood, whose primary achievement as a pro is being a member of the PBA All-Defensive team seven times.

His defensive prowess eventually became his ticket to Gilas, having been a regular fixture of the national team since 2007, just a year before he became Rain or Shine's top overall pick in the PBA Draft.

While his national team stint has its unique experience, Norwood also ranks the 2013 Gilas team at the top of his basketball experience as a national player because of how they were able to finally end the "Korean curse".

"The best Gilas moment for me was (the Philippines) qualifying for the first World Cup (again since 1978), playing here (in Manila) and beating Korea," Norwood recalled with fondness.

"For those who don't know the history of the Philippines and Korea in terms of basketball, Korea has been kind of a thorn on the side of Philippine basketball for so long."

Gilas relied on clutch threes by team skipper Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo towards the end to thwart South Korea, 86-79, in the knockout semis to enter the 2013 FIBA Asia men's championship round.

The victory more importantly sealed the Philippines' return to the World Cup for the first time or since the country lasted hosted it in 1978.

"I think any player can attest to that, that every year, your team is different but that team was so special. Those are guys, I can get on the phone right now and we bring up memories like it was yesterday," he said. "That's probably my best Gilas memory with my two sons and my wife in the crowd."