TNT ex-teammates get bittersweet feelings with Alapag's return | Inquirer Sports

TNT ex-teammates get bittersweet feelings with Alapag’s return

/ 04:06 PM August 08, 2015

Jimmy Alapag PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

Jimmy Alapag PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

Jimmy Alapag’s comeback from retirement caught a lot of people off guard, especially his teammates in Talk ‘N Text. But the news of his return is overpowered by his transfer to Meralco, the first time Alapag will not be donning a TNT blue-and-yellow jersey.

“Akala ko joke lang (I thought it was only a joke),” said Jayson Castro.


Castro, whose only duel against Alapag in a sanctioned game came during the 2015 PBA All-Star Game in Palawan last March, said he was still shocked with the news and admitted it would be awkward for him to be on a different side against his longtime backcourt mate.


“Di ako sanay na makalaban sya. Buong career ko, sya yung mentor ko. Ngayon, magkakalaban na talaga kami sa laro. Parang awkward para sa akin, di ako sanay na magkalaban kami (I’m not used to him being my opponent. Throughout my career, he was my mentor. Now, we’re going to face off in a real game. It’s a bit awkward for me, I’m not really used to it),” Castro said.

Ranidel de Ocampo, meanwhile, said he understood Alapag’s decision to return.

“Tingin ko andun pa rin sa puso nya yung paglalaro. Kung nalipat man sya ng team, siguro may dahilan sya. Siguro gusto nya rin masubukan yung iba. Si Michael Jordan nga sumubok sa ibang team eh (I think his heart for the game is still there. Maybe he had a reason for changing teams. Maybe he wanted to try others. Even Michael Jordan did it),” De Ocampo said.

But more than anything, he believes the biggest motivation for Alapag is his kids.

“Siguro gusto nya rin makita ng mga anak nya na naglalaro sya at di sa kwento lang. Iba pa rin yung naglalaro ka na nakikita ka ng pamilya mo. Di pa naman sobrang tanda ni Jimmy (Maybe he wants his kids to see him play and not just hear tales of him as a player. It’s different when your family sees you play. And Jimmy is not really that old),” De Ocampo said.

Talk ‘N Text consultant and Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin knows that fact ever since, even saying that when Alapag announced his retirement in January, he always thought of it as something premature.


“I told him it’s way too early, but he didn’t listen to me so if he wants to play for Gilas, he has to change that and start listening to me now,” the coach said.

Baldwin continued, “I thought he had a lot left in the tank and I think it’s too early for him to retire. I’m excited to see him. I’m stunned that he’s going to play for Meralco and not Talk ‘N Text, but good for him, for coach Norman. They’ll be a good fit about each other.”

Though he’s happy to see the Gilas captain returning, Baldwin said that he wouldn’t pass the opportunity to rub what he earlier said to Alapag’s face and tell him, “I told you so.”

“I wouldn’t let that opportunity pass by,” he said with a grin. “I’m really happy for Jimmy, really excited for him and the fans.”

But will that mean Alapag vanquishing his role as a Gilas assistant coach and return as a pool player? Baldwin said they have yet to talk about it.

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“We need to sit down and discuss it. He’s got to come out here and be the Jimmy Alapag that was. I believe that he’s determined to do that. It’s exciting for basketball,” he said. “It’s almost a chance to kiss your girlfriend goodbye for the second time and that’s always exciting. He will be fine.”

TAGS: Jimmy Alapag, Meralco Bolts, PBA, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters

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