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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Just My Opinion: The Life and Times of Jimmy Alapag in the PBA

3/8/2015 8:42:20 PM

Photo credit: Rappler
One Wednesday evening of November 2005: It was during my early days of following the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) when I first took notice on this guy – small in the typical Pinoy basketball player size – with that quickness to put up plays for the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals against Barangay Gineba San Miguel. The game was then slated at the packed Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City (and how can't I forget the match? I still even have the game's ticket on my archive.)

That guy was known as the “Mighty Mouse,” the Fil-American player named Jimmy Alapag.

The man who dons jersey number 3 for TNT was slick-fast in dishing passes to his teammates, and at the same time a small guy with a big heart come crunch time. Maybe for me, who was a noob-slash-newbie in following the basketball scene that time, I never knew that this guy was the young leader in the team alongside Asi Taulava, a Fil-Tongan center who was then-a ‘giant’ for the PBA considering his size, plus the showmanship on the court (I’m talking about his hairdo, by the way).

Maybe, if you’re a fan of the other teams, you’re gonna hate him the way he knocked down 35 to 40-foot jump shots—and sometimes, with an opponent attempting to stifle him; and also, his interviews on media coverages. Over the years I watched the PBA games over ABC-5, I can even tell mas nagtatagalog pa si Mark Caguioa kesa dito kay Alapag and even the Spark’s teammate in Ginebra Jayjay Helterbrand. 

But you can’t blame them, especially on their past roots. After all the foreign blood they had (in general), maybe we still should be quite thankful that they still chose to play here in the Philippines. (Though of course, on the flipside, this should serve as a stepping stone for our very own “home grown” prized stars to step their game up.)

Besides, if we all gonna put our hatred on the so-called “Fil-Ams” or even “Fil-Shams”—something most of the sports aficionados, critics, and even politicians used to deal with in the past—do you think we can stand a chance to strut our stuff to the basketball world at present, especially at the recent international big-time tournaments held by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA)?

It can never be a guaranteed Yes answer, my friend.

His story, from being a son to a Filipino immigrants, to seeking his opportunity to play ball at the Moro Lorenzo Sports complex, with Taulava serving as his "brother," and his skyrocketing ride to stratosphere; was something to be inspire of. Forget that he's one of those Fil-Shams. Nationalities don't matter since not everyone of them was handed a packed-full of opportunities on a silver platter, something that stereotyping should be blamed for.

Alapag, the 10th overall pick of the PBA draft class of 2003—the batch were the names Mike Cortez, Rommel Adducul, Ronald Tubid, Harvey Carey, Cyrus Baguio, Enrico Villanueva, Sunday Salvacion, and even Reynel Hugnata ring a bell—earned prestigious accolades over his PBA stint with Talk ‘N Text: earning the Most Valuable Player awards at least once in the All-Star game, Regular season, and the championship series; three-time Mythical Five member; plus a Best Player of the Conference plaque; Rookie of the Year plum, as well as the Three-point shootout winner; and to put the feather on his cap, six PBA titles—five of them coming from the league’s Philippine Cup.

And with most of them came in his breakout year in 2011; even if you can argue that it was during 2004-05 season when he posted exploding statistics of 24.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in over 77 games.

At the end, after 502 games, Alapag have the norms of almost 13 markers, 4 boards, 6 dimes, in almost 32 minutes of playing time, with an exceptionally-good shooting from the floor (36.9% in field goals, 35.7 from three-pointers, and 79.8 in the free throw line).** He also ranked in the association’s all-time 3-point shots made, just behind “The Triggerman” Allan Caidic.

His retirement ceremony held during the PBA All-Star game in Puerto Princesa city just proved how his contributions became significant both in his squad for almost 1 ½ decade, and for the entire Philippine Basketball as well. Without his leadership, Talk ‘N Text would not establish dominance in the PBA during the previous years – especially with that 3-straight Philippine Cup championship run from 2011-2013 (that despite heavy criticisms regarding over his “powerhouse” squad). His explosiveness during his early years established TNT to a much perennial playoff contending team.

And through him, the PH basketball found young guns that could pass his torch on, like Jayson Castro, who became his teammate in TNT and Gilas Pilipinas; and even Terrence Romeo, the guy who just won the All-Star MVP and neutralized the Alapag-led rally late in the ASG.

And who could forget his performance at the 2013 FIBA Asian Championships and the 2014 FIBA World Cup? Sure, every Gilas player has their own share of highlights to remember; but you can never deny the fighting veteran like Jimmy Alapag right there; especially in the game against Argentina.

And after seeing his numerous games both in the venue and television, what more else can I say about him? His playing style just proved the Philippines can stand a chance with their hearts going all-out for the game. Talk about lethality; talk about being cluth; man, that’s the Mighty Mouse for you.

**statistics according to his Wikipedia article. ABS-CBN Sports reported though that he ammased 12.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and four assists.

Author: slickmaster | ©2015 september twenty-eight productions

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