Alapag, Alab looking to finish strong after overcoming poor start
STA. ROSA — Coming with heightened expectations in its second season, Alab Pilipinas positioned itself as a top flight contender in the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League.
However, a 0-3 start casted doubts over the crew’s ability to hang with the league’s bests and put rookie coach Jimmy Alapag under the microscope.
But necessary changes were made. Alab changed its World Imports and had a sponsorship facelift.
And now, San Miguel Alab is just three wins away from being the third Filipino team to win the regional crown.
Looking back, Alapag could only brim with pride the way his side persevered and straightened up its rough patches early in the season.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” he said after Alab’s 79-72 victory over Hong Kong Eastern to sweep the semifinals in two games.
“They’ve fought and clawed their way to the finals considering where we were at the start of the season. It was tough, tough on me, tough on the guys, and it makes practice tough because of the schedule, having to play once every two weeks. But you got to give credit to their effort coming in every day, committing to working and committing on getting better.”
With Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee in tow, things fell into place for the team, stringing eight straight wins as Alab established itself as a legitimate title contender, something which Alapag believed was the turning point for the squad.
“We have two incredible imports on and off the court in Balk and Jus. It just helps to set the table collectively as a group,” he said. “We kept moving forward, kind of got our rhythm in the eight-game winning streak and now, we have a confident group that deserves to be there in the finals.”
Alapag knows that the pressure is slowly mounting on San Miguel Alab Pilipinas to take home the gold, but for him, his job remains the same.
“You know it’s funny. When you’re playing, you dedicate so much of your time in the gym, training, and practicing on the court. But when you’re coaching, that commitment stays the same but now, it’s watching video, trying to find ways that you can improve as a coach, and try to help your team be as prepared as possible.”
“For me, the work ethic never changes and that’s just who I am and now, I want to make sure that now that I’m coaching, that I do my best to put these guys on a good position to win,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.