NEWLY-INSTALLED Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag is thrilled to take on a new chapter of his basketball career, and to take the Asean Basketball League team to the next level in his first year as head of the ballclub.
"It has a new ring to it. It's really an exciting opportunity. I'm just really thankful for Alab for bringing me on," said Alapag, who will be head coach of a franchise for the time in his career.
"Basketball has always been a huge part of my life. To have this opportunity now to be part of Alab, this is a great opportunity," he added.
This early, Alapag already has a lofty goal to make Alab a strong title contender next season.
"I think going into the second season, 'yung goal namin is to compete for the championship. Last year, they were really close to be in the finals. Hopefully, this season, we will get there and bring the first championship for Alab," said Alapag.
Although he was not yet the coach of the team, the former PBA MVP has been making appearances in a few of Alab's games during parts of last season.
Alapag is no stranger to the international game, having been part of Gilas Pilipinas for a long time and a member of the team that finished runner-up in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship and played in the the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.
The former TNT and Meralco cager also hopes to bring one facet of his game to the team - shooting.
"I hope that we are a very good perimeter shooting team. One of the plans is to incorporate lots of shooting in training. Our focus for our players is to establish a winning culture and put ourselves in a position to compete for a championship. I think fans can expect guys who have great work ethic," said Alapag.
So far, Alab has yet to sign up players but Alapag will be using his vast experience with his coaches in putting up the best team possible.
"We are still in the process of building the team. I've been very, very fortunate in my career to play for different coaches, coach Chot (Reyes), coach Norman (Black), coach Derrick (Pumaren), even coach Tim (Cone) when he was helping Gilas. We're talking about some Hall of Fame-level coaches. I'd like to get bits and pieces from those guys," said Alapag.
Even though he has accepted the Alab coaching job, Alapag said he will remain with Gilas Pilipinas.
"I'll still be with Gilas. I'm very thankful to Alab because this opportunity still allows me to continue my work for the national team," said Alapag.