ASI Taulava was not too excited upon hearing the news of Jimmy Alapag making a comeback — only because the best friends will not be ending up in the same team.
“I was hoping he would come to NLEX,” the Road Warriors stalwart said before bursting into laughter after Gilas Pilipinas practice on Friday night on the same day Alapag was set to un-retire from the PBA and sent from Talk ‘N Text to Meralco in a three-team trade.
“Still happy that he’s back,” Taulava said. “It’s a great feeling when your pal comes back.”
Taulava, who won a championship with Alapag in their first season together at Mobiline (now Talk 'N Text), admitted he was initially surprised to see his friend join Gilas practice on Wednesday. Now he knows why.
“Now, it all makes sense why he’s in here killing himself in practice.”
Still, Taulava said it was easy to put the pieces together on why Alapag suddenly decided to come back, just months after retiring last February to become TNT manager and concurrent Gilas assistant coach.
“It’s always hard for players to walk away,” Taulava explained. “When you walk away and keep yourself busy, I think it’s a little bit easier.”
“But when you walk away and you become team manager and you’re still working out and still see these guys you went to war every day, that itch is there,” the evergreen slotman said. “If you haven’t lost it, it starts growing. I think that fire got back into him.”
Physically, Alapag never lost it, his pal said.
“He stayed in shape even though he retired,” Taulava said. “I’ve been watching him and every time I see him, he doesn’t look like he’s retired, because some guys when they get retired, they gain weight and start not wanting to work out.”
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin believes Alapag was motivated by his young son.
“I think one of Jimmy’s motivations was his young son and the opportunity to have his son see him play,” the American-Kiwi mentor said. “I’m happy for Jimmy.”
Baldwin was just surprised Alapag didn’t stay with the Tropang Texters.
“I’m a little stunned that he’s going to play for Meralco instead of TNT,” the concurrent Texters consultant said. “But good for him and good for coach Norman (Black) and they’ll be a good fit for each other.”
“It’s almost a chance to kiss your girlfriend goodbye a second time,” he added.