Meet your Gilas Cadets: JJ Alejandro

He’s served the community. He’s won a historic college championship and in the process, has had a book published about that incredible feat and his role in it. And now, he’s serving the country.

JJ Alejandro III sat at the upper box area of the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan waiting for the Gilas Cadets match and he took the time to reflect on the blessings of his young career.

He was once a member of the Samahang Kabataan in Caloocan where his father, Rodolfo Alejandro Jr., also served in various capacities. At that same time, he played for the country in the FIBA Under-16 championships in Vietnam and a couple of years later, with the Under-18 team in Mongolia.

“I got to played for Mapua in the NCAA and then National University in the UAAP,” he reflected. “What an opportunity to say, ‘nakalaro ako sa parehong liga.’”

He was a part of NU’s historic 2014 championship team that ended a 61-year title drought. A book was published about that season, A NU Champion, one that JJ cherishes just as much. “Hindi ko akalain mapapasama ako sa title team tapos meron pa naisulat na libro tungkol doon. Blessing yun? How often does this happen, di ba?”

While in high school, he was told by Jamike Jarin, then with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, and who would be his coach in his last playing year in college that he would be with the Under-18 team. “Nakita ko sila Kiefer Ravena, Gelo Alolino, and Jeron Teng sa Nokia team. Si coach Jamike Jarin nagsabi na meron ako mag-chance mag-national team,” recalled JJ. “What an experience again. And now nandito tayo with some former college rivals sa Gilas Cadets.”

“Excited kami kasi yung ginawa ni boss MVP. We’re going to be hosting the FIBA World Cup. Ngayon pa lang, nagkakakilala na kami. May chance to represent the country in 2023.”

Along with some of his national teammates in Paul Desiderio and CJ Perez, some of his closest friends on the cadets, they feel overwhelmed. “Hindi lahat nabibigyan ng chance and we are given that opportunity,” he said.

The national team also provides the opportunity to expand his game. “Kailangan hindi one specialty meron ka. Sa case ko, hindi lang three-point shooting. Dapat, kaya ko rin magdala o magbaba ng bola. Maka-drive at assist din. Hindi puwede score ka lang ng score.”

“Basta ako, excited for all of this. What an opportunity.”