Gab Banal went on record saying numerous times that he wasn’t inclined to make a return in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

More than playing in the pro league, Banal said he is after the fun and the playing time — something he didn’t get in his first stint in the PBA from 2014 to 2017.

On Thursday, however, the 6-foot-4 Banal officially made his return to the PBA by signing with the Alaska Aces.

What changed?

Gab Banal20210220 800x564 - Cariaso assures Banal stint with Aces will be ‘fun’

Banal said his talk with Alaska head coach Jeffrey Cariaso made him feel that he would be playing an important role with the Aces and basketball would be “fun” for him the second time around.

“How coach Jeff talked to me, he was practically saying that I have a place in Alaska. My discussion with him really meant a lot,” Banal told The Manila Times on Friday.

“He would have not called me if I didn’t have something to give to Alaska, especially in this very deep Draft. It really means that the organization wants me and I will repay that trust by giving my best every game and practice,” added the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 Rookie Draft.

Outside the PBA, Banal still flourished as he joined countless domestic and international leagues. Banal embellished his career with a 2018 PBA D-League title and a Finals MVP award, a 2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League season MVP plum and a 2020 title with the Mighty Sports in Dubai.

Banal, 30, aims to bring maturity and leadership to the Aces, who look to end an eight-year title drought in the PBA.

“From all my experiences, what I can give Alaska is maturity and leadership because I’ve learned a lot … since I left the PBA,” said Banal, whose father Joel previously coached the Aces.

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