MANILA, Philippines — Talk ‘N Text’s Jimmy Alapag has been the MVP, a national team member, a Finals MVP and just recently, a six-time PBA champion.
Despite all the hardware, Alapag, one of the league’s best playmakers, stays driven.
“I’m very blessed. I’m very blessed with an amazing family, amazing wife and just the foundation of support that I have,” said Alapag, the 2003 Rookie of the Year. “When you could come to work with these guys and knowing how much they care, how much heart and character they have, it’s all the inspiration you need to come in to work and want to put your best foot forward.”
Alapag, already in his 10th year in the league, admitted he has lost a step since being drafted by Talk ‘N Text as the first overall pick a decade ago.
“It’s funny you know, it’s no secret that I’m a lot closer towards the end of my career than the beginning,” the 35-year-old Alapag told INQUIRER.net as he fetched his family members back at the dimmed lights of the historic Araneta Coliseum, about an hour after the Tropang Texters swept Rain or Shine for their third straight PBA Philippine Cup championship Wednesday night.
The veteran point guard though, hardly looked like a player past his prime in the Finals.
Alapag was key in Talk ‘N Text’s surprisingly short work of Rain or Shine to become the first team in 20 years to repeat the famed Crispa Redmanizers team’s feat of an all-Filipino “three-peat”.
With the Elasto Painters hanging around, Alapag was one of those who pulled the plug on Rain or Shine in a frantic fourth quarter, sparked by a barrage of triples and capped by dazzling dunks.
“Honestly, I’ve been playing basketball for a long time and it’s a special fourth quarter. I think it was only fitting, a special quarter for a very special special group of guys,” he said as the game turned from a closely contested one to a lopsided affair.
With almost every individual and team awards in the bag, don’t expect Alapag to hang up his sneakers just yet.
“I have two more years with Talk ‘N Text, we’ll see after that. I really try my best not to really look far ahead and just pay attention to each day and take it for what it is but I definitely find myself, at this stage of my career having a much deeper appreciation for what we have and where we are but we’ll see. I think that’s the best answer I can give you right now, we’ll see.”
“Each championship is special but this one has a more special meaning. Just with the group of guys that we have, it’s special. Knowing what we’ve all been through the last years both on and off the court and for us to be here now winning a third straight all-Filipino is amazing.”
“It’s a credit for the management, for our coaching staff, just a credit to our guys for coming in everyday and putting in the work trying our best to really adjust to coach Norman’s system knowing that we kind of had a late start. But it’s just amazing; all the credit goes to everyone involved,” added Alapag, who scored 10 points in Game 4, highlighted by two treys in the final minutes of the fourth period.
Alapag also said that the team had little trouble adjusting from Chot Reyes’ system to Norman Black’s with Black already familiar with the players “but it did take some time.”
“But again guys came to work and really wanted to get the job done, to win the championship.”
Alapag has no plans of slowing down and in spite of the individual awards and championships across his name, he’s hungry for more.
“After celebrating this [championship], you have to strap up and see if you can climb that mountain again.”