#InquirerSeven Best moments of Jimmy Alapag’s career
PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines—Jimmy Alapag, who played the final game of his career on Sunday in his 11th PBA All-Star Game, had his legacy immortalized in a tearful jersey-retirement ceremony among his family, friends, former teammates, and thousands of fans in Palawan.
As a salute to the captain, Alapag, through his own words, relived the best moments of his illustrious career in the PBA and the national team in this edition of #InquirerSeven.
1. PBA Rookie Draft Day
Getting selected 10th, it felt like my dream of becoming a pro basketball player in that moment came to life. I was so happy. When I injured my hand in my national stint in 2002 with RP-Selecta, I was a complete flop. So that fire was burning pretty bad, I wanted to use each game as an opportunity to prove that I belong and there was a reason I was on that team even though I got hurt.
2. First Championship in 2003
Beating Coca-Cola for Talk N’ Text’s first All-Filipino championship with Asi Taulava was really special. It was awesome to be a pro for only five months and then be able to celebrate a championship.
Harvey Carey and I were both really lucky as rookies to join a team with a lot of veteran guys. We had Asi, Vic Pablo, Mark Telan, Patrick Fran, Donbel Belano, a lot of guys who have so much experience. But we were able to come in, just do our part and not be looked upon with so much pressure. There wasn’t “oh you have to do this, and you have to do that.” We just had to play and lean on them and their experience.
3. 2004 All-Star Game in Cebu
This moment in Cebu stands out for me because our team. I was in the starting line-up along with Eric Menk, Asi Taulava, Kenneth Duremdes—guys who had already made their mark in the league. To celebrate the win with all those guys who are the benchmark for the PBA, to be a part of that in just my second year in the league, and to share the MVP with Asi, it was pretty awesome.
There was a point in that endgame where the crowd was cheering for me. I think Cebu fans are some of the best fans in our country. LJ (my then-girlfriend, now wife) was there, and nephew from the United States was in town so he came in and watched.
4. End of the title drought in 2009
We waited so long for this championship. That five-year drought for Talk N’ Text was tough amid player changes and coaching changes in the team. I was in such a big transition in those four to five years. It was tough. I felt that championship got the monkey off our back a little bit more.
Playing along side Mac Cardona, and that run we made during a time we played together was unbelievable. He was unbelievable in the semis against San Miguel and even more in the finals against Alaska.
5. Talk N’ Text’s All-Filipino three-peat in 2013
I think in basketball, you have rare moments, like an out-of-body experience — the last eight minutes of that fourth quarter of Game 4 against Rain or Shine for that third straight All-Filipino was one of them.
I think everybody on the floor made a shot, like one crazy shot after another. I hit a deep three, Ranidel (De Ocampo) got a deep three, Kelly (Williams) got an and-one dunk, Ryan (Reyes) hit a dipsy-doo reverse, Larry (Fonacier) hit a running one-legged from 17, Kelly got a steal and Jared (Dillinger) threw it off-the-glass and gets another dunk. It’s something I’ll remember for the team—the guys did it the right way, we trained the right way, we play the game the right way.
That team is one of the most special teams I’ve ever been a part of. It was loaded with talent but everybody wanted to sacrifice, everybody committed to what we’re doing, committed to game plan, committed to the work. I remember those practices, we were literally at each others throats and all of that translated onto the court.
REFRESH YOUR MEMORY:
- Black’s TNT as great as ’83 Crispa
- Talk ‘N Text sweeps Rain or Shine for 3rd straight Philippine Cup title
6. 2013 Fiba Asia: The Korea Game
That shot against Korea was the biggest shot of my career.
I remember before that game, LA (Tenorio) and I hit the floor and we looked around for a quick second. We saw that everybody at Mall of Asia was dressed in white, the music’s blasting and crowd was screaming. LA and I just looked at each other, and I thought “things are going to change.” There was no way Korea was going to win. With or without Marcus (Douthit), it would not happen.
It really took everybody’s heart, everybody’s soul to win that game. When you watch that second half, everybody who played made an impact in that game. I know people talk about my shot, but so much happened before that. Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, Jeff Chan—everybody contributed. That was incredible.
Thinking about that game and thinking about seeing that clock winding down, seeing that we’re beating South Korea and getting a spot to the World Championships, there’s just no words to describe it.
REFRESH YOUR MEMORY:
- Alapag on Gilas beating Korea: ‘This is the most precious moment of my career’
- Gilas ends Korean torment, wins Fiba Asia semifinal to book World Cup berth
7. Breakthrough win in World Cup
I didn’t want our trip to the Basketball World Cup to go for nothing. I felt like if we didn’t win a game, everybody would say, “Oh you guys played so well but too bad, you didn’t win any, you lost five or six games.” It’s like we have nothing to show for at home.
As great as we played against Croatia and the Argentina game in the Basketball World Cup, the great moment for me was against Senegal. Even though we didn’t make it to the second round, I just felt we deserved to win a game. So winning it the way we did against Senegal—with guys beat up, Dray (Blatche) fouling out before overtime, I felt like we created another foundation for us to build on and show the world that not only are we coming back in our own country with something, but we’re coming back with something to build on for the future.
REFRESH YOUR MEMORY: