Jimmy Alapag can’t help but rue lost opportunity to win another ABL title
Around this time the past two years, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag is usually at his busiest as the Filipino ball club vies in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) playoffs.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic however, has forced the ABL to totally scrap its 10th season. And while Alapag supports the move, he can’t help but rue the missed opportunity for Alab, which was in second spot even after an inconsistent start to the campaign.
Things were slowly but surely falling into place for Alab just before the health crisis as multititled Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee
and reigning ABL defensive player of the year John Fields were finally on board to join forces with reinforcement Nick King and point guard Jason Brickman.
“I still feel bad that our season was cut short,” Alapag told the Inquirer. “I felt that we had to go through so many obstacles in the first five months of the season because we had a practically new team and there was a lot of work put in by the players and staff before the season was called off.”
The ABL Season 8 champions won 10 of their first 16 games even with the changes in the roster as Alapag tried to find the right combinations. The Filipino ball club also split its season series with No. 1 team Mono Vampire of Thailand, winning twice, including an away game in Nonthaburi province.
“We were really excited for the last 11 games,” he said.
“I was just blown away by the 10 days we were together as a complete team. There was an air of confidence in the gym and in practice. I felt the early struggles just made us a better team.”
But Alapag understands the bigger picture as sports takes a back seat at the time of the pandemic.
The UAAP, NCAA and PSL have all been forced to abruptly cancel their seasons, while the PBA, after playing just one game in its 45th season last month, didn’t have a choice and indefinitely suspended the Philippine Cup.
Leagues all over the world have also taken the same route.
“It was a tough way to end the season and it’s disappointing, but everyone’s safety, from the players, coaches, ABL staff and the fans, comes first,” Alapag concluded.