Fiba World Cup: ‘Nothing like playing against the best at home,’ says Alapag
MANILA, Philippines-Former Gilas Pilipinas captain Jimmy Alapag sent his best wishes Friday to the Philippine team hours before it debuted in the 2023 Fiba World Cup against the Dominican Republic at Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“All my prayers and well wishes for the Gilas team,” Alapag, who now resides in Sacramento, California with his family, said.
“Wish I could be there in person too,” Alapag, who was recently appointed as player development coach of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Alapag, whose mere presence alone would have been a welcome addition to Gilas in their bid to secure a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics by becoming the highest Asian finisher in the World Cup.
After all, his exploits during the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain–where he averaged 9.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists– are legendary and now part of Philippine basketball history.
Alapag had 14 points in the group phase against Luis Scola and Argentina, which the Philippines narrowly lost, 85-81, and reserved his best later, scoring 18 points in a heartstopping 81-79 overtime win over Senegalfor the country’s first World Cup triumph in four decades.
While Alapag achieved heights in his playing career that most of his peers could only dream of scaling, he could be best remembered for his role during the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship semifinal at Mall of Asia Arena.
Before a boisterous hometown crowd, Alapag scored 14 points, including four three-point shots, as the Philippines brought down South Korea 86-79 to clinch a spot in the World Cup in Spain the following year.
Even that, though, pales to experiencing this World Cup, according to Alapag.
“Nothing like playing against the best in the world at home!!” he said.
While the 2023-2024 NBA season starts in two months, with Alapag, whose parents are immigrants from Leyte, probably joining Sacramento head coach Mike Brown on the bench, the 2011 PBA MVP is already planning a homecoming next year.
“Hoping to come back and visit after the NBA season,” he said. “Maybe do a camp while I’m there as well.”
“Please send my regards to everyone in the PBA.”