THE transition may have taken some time before Jimmy Alapag finally got comfortable playing under the system of new coach Norman Black.
Now that he’s settled down, the veteran guard is again playing like the MVP that he was once.
Alapag came off the bench the last two games for the Tropang Texters, but came up with starter-like numbers that earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period covering November 19 to 25.
Alapag has started in just three of the 11 games he has played so far. For the man who won the league MVP two seasons ago, he is simply doing what was expected of him.
In Talk `N Text’s back-to-back wins over San Mig Coffee and Air21, Alapag averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds as the defending champion assured itself of a twice-to-beat edge in the Philippine Cup playoffs.
"I'm feeling better with coach Norman's system now," said Alapag. "There was an adjustment period for the whole team, but I think we're getting better with it.
“Coach always stresses to us the importance of trying to improve each game and we're making a conscious effort to get it done."
Get it done, Alapag did.
Now usually playing behind Jayson Castro, Alapag doesn’t mind coming off the bench as he shot 11-for-14 from the field, including 7-for-9 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 8-for-8 from the stripes in those two recent outings.
He showcased that by scoring a personal conference-high 19 points in just the three quarters of the Tropang Texters’ 92-63 demolition of archrival San Mig Coffee last week.
The 2003 Rookie of the Year followed that up with 18 points in a 100-94 repeat over Air21 last Sunday in a performance that featured eight points and two of his six assists in the decisive fourth period, giving the defending champion Tropang Texters full separation from the Express.
“The last two games he has given us a big lift with his offense. He has really shot the ball well, especially from long range,” said Black of his 34-year-old playmaker.
“For me, it's his leadership that has stood out. He and Jayson (Castro) have bought into the offensive system and they are making sure the team executes our plays well,” added the champion mentor who took over the job vacated by Chot Reyes.