ABL: Coach Jimmy Alapag strikes gold again, now as a rookie coach

Philip Matel on May 03, 2018 12:21 PM
Coach Jimmy Alapag strikes gold again, now as a rookie coach
Not knowing what to expect with his transition from being the floor general of Talk N' Text, Gilas Pilipinas, and Meralco, Jimmy Alapag sure has proven naysayers wrong.

SANTA ROSA, Laguna -- For a first-time coach, Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag already has a title under his belt.

From his success in the PBA as a player, he takes his championship pedigree as a coach of a veteran team led by PBA imports Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee along with two-time Local MVP Bobby Ray Parks. 

Not knowing what to expect with his transition from being the floor general of Talk N' Text, Gilas Pilipinas and Meralco, Alapag sure has proven naysayers wrong.

From stumbling to a 1-4 start and losing support from their initial sponsor, Alapag surely had a rollercoaster of a ride for his maiden voyage as mentor of the Philippine representative to the eight-year old ASEAN Basketball League. 

More problems arose as they lost import Ivan Johnson for an extended period of time due to injury. Alapag had to look deep into his mind, and met with team owner Charlie Dy up until the wee hours of the morning, not knowing what the next few hours could bring.

The first to join the team was two-time Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who, to Alapag's surprise, immediately committed with the team. 

All they needed was another import. Someone who could bring intensity on both ends of the floor to complement the volume scoring of the two-time PBA champion. 

Luckily, a conversation from the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where the Mighty Mouse had been the team captain, had saved another miracle for the Philippines. Puerto Rico had just defeated Gilas in overtime in Sevilla, ending the Philippines' chances of making the next round of the tournament.

It was after the game, when Alapag and Renaldo Balkman had crossed paths again. 

"[Balkman] told me, 'Hey man. If you every turn yourself into this coaching thing. You have my number," the former New York Knick said to the decorated floor general. 

Alapag of course was aware of Balkman's unceremonious exit from the PBA following his incident with Arwind Santos, but had been told by the Puerto Rican that he was raring to come back to our archipelago and start anew with the his team. 

"It really was just an isolated incident and I think that he has shown during this stint his true character. Not just his ability on the court, but I think his love and his passion for the game. Just like us Filipinos have. I think that's something we share." Alapag added. 

Just like the preparations he had to undergo during his long and storied career, the rookie coach is now focused on the offseason, with his eyes looking towards making strides in improving his skills as a coach, much like what he did as a player.

And just like when he was a player, the 40-year old had always the team's interests in mind, much more likely now that he is a coach.

"We were such a tight-knit group that when you do that, you give yourself an opportunity to win. Being with these guys, seeing the growth in all of them, especially these two guys, and all the guys in our locker room. Anytime you have a team that it isn't just a team, it becomes a brotherhood, it becomes a family, that dynamic of a relationship changes."

 

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