Alapag stars in new role with Talk ’N TextBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—Jimmy Alapag may have relinquished his starting role but that doesn’t take away the fact that much of Talk ‘N Text’s success still has his name written all over it.
Alapag came up big in the Tropang Texters’ last two games despite coming off the bench to earn the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for November 19-25.
During that stretch, Alapag normed 18.5 points, 5.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds a game in wins over San Mig Coffee and Air21 as the reigning Philippine Cup champion assured itself of at least a playoff berth for a twice-to-beat edge.
“The last two games he (Alapag) has given us a big lift with his offense. He has really shot the ball well, especially from long range,” said TNT head coach Norman Black.
The 34-year-old Alapag hardly missed in those games as he shot 11-of-14 from the field, seven-of-nine from deep, and an eight-of-eight shooting at the stripe while playing as a backup to Jayson Castro.
Black, though, is more impressed with Alapag’s contributions unseen in the box scores.
“For me, it’s his leadership that has stood out. He and Jayson (Castro) have bought into the offensive system and they are making sure the team executes our plays well.”
“I’m feeling better with coach Norman’s system now,” said Alapag, who has only started in three of the 11 games he has played so far. “There was an adjustment period for the whole team, but I think we’re getting better with it. Coach always stresses to us the importance of trying to improve each game and we’re making a conscious effort to get it done.”
He did just that by unleashing a personal conference-high 19 points in the first three quarters to lead TNT to a 92-63 beatdown of fierce rival San Mig Coffee last Wednesday.
The 2003 Rookie of the Year had an encore of a performance with 18 points in a 100-94 repeat over Air21 last Sunday highlighted by eight points and two of his six assists in the decisive period.
“Actually, Jimmy is just being Jimmy,” noted Black. “When he is healthy he is just a hard player to stop.”