US-raised Abel Galliguez draws inspiration from Alapag as he reaches for PBA dream
John Brown University alum Abel Galliguez hopes the D-League experience and more training in the US would boost his chances of making it to the PBA. Dante Peralta

BY following the career of Jimmy Alapag, up and coming Abel Galliguez became convinced a small guy can make it big in the domestic pro league. He also realized it will take much more than just heart and skills.

The playmaker from Houston has been a key player for Cagayan Valley in the D-League but feels he needs to do more to prepare for the PBA draft, and is planning to return to the US to train after the Foundation Cup.

“That’s my plan,” said the 5-foot-8 Galliguez in an interview with “I have to play well this conference and build on what I did last conference.”

“I want to lose some weight and increase my explosiveness and strength, and work on my weaknesses,” he said.

Born to Filipino parents in the United States, Galliguez attended John Brown University where he became a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (Naia) All-American in 2013.

But it’s no surprise who the ‘undersized’ playmaker is following in his bid to make it to the pros.

“I’ve been following Jimmy Alapag since high school and I saw videos of him playing in the PBA,” said Galliguez, who like many ‘undersized’ guards is drawing inspiration from the now retired national team skipper.

“Because I play in Filipino leagues in the States, someone told me, ‘Hey, check out Jimmy Alapag.’ I told myself I can also do that. He is my height. It became realistic to me to come here after college.”

“He is a competitor. I like his heart and how hard he works.”

After college, Galliguez embarked on his dream to play in the Philippines. Thanks to a missionary friend, Galliguez was able to land a D-League stint with Wangs’ Basketball in 2013 before ending up with Cagayan Valley the following year.

“I guess there is a database of Fil-Ams here and Matthew Manotoc (agent) got hold of me and told me to come over here,” he said.

While Mo Tautuaa gained most of the attention for the Rising Suns last conference, the 24-year-old Galliguez was also a huge factor in Cagayan Valley’s run to the finals of the Aspirants Cup. He earned raves after hitting a game-winning triple for Cagayan Valley in their victory over Hapee in the elimination round. His team, however, lost to the Fresh Fighters in the finals.

But before the PBA draft, Galliguez hopes to help carry Gerry’s Cagayan to an elusive D-League crown. The Rising Suns have been to the finals twice since the league’s inception in 2011 but have never won a crown.


“It’s going to be a challenge without Mo (now with Cebuana Lhuillier). But I think we are tall inside and if you have someone big, you are going to be a contender. Most importantly, we have to play as a team and less one-on-one, play pick-and roll, give-and-go because that’s our system. That’s where we thrive and where we have the most success,” Galliguez said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports