JIMMY Alapag may have a chance to bid fans goodbye on the court - if the PBA allows it.
Former teammate Asi Taulava has broached the idea of the former Gilas Pilipinas captain being given a chance to play one final time in the coming PBA All-Star Game set in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on March 8.
Alapag, 37, announced his retirement from the PBA on January 9 , days after Talk 'N Text's campaign in the Philippine Cup ended and therefore didn't get a chance to play a farewell game in the pro league.
“I hope Jimmy gets to play. I hope league rules will allow him. He walked away without saying goodbye. True warriors are given one last war to conquer, and I hope he’ll have the chance to do his final dance on the hard court,” Taulava said.
“The best thing the PBA and players and the fans can do for Jimmy is give him one last game, especially for what he has done for the PBA the past 12 years and coming from a great season last year.”
Sounds like a good plan, but there are just a couple of hitches.
The league has kicked off the fan voting for the All-Star starters at the start of the Commissioner's Cup and Alapag's name was no longer put on the ballot after his retirement, says PBA operations director Rickie Santos.
Since there is no chance for him to be voted in by fans, the only way he can make an All-Star team is if the coaches of the 12 PBA ballclubs vote him in for the seven reserves for each side in the midseason classic.
But before all that can happen, the PBA, through Commissioner Chito Salud, will have to give Alapag a special concession and open the All-Star door for the former league MVP.
Taulava said it can be a fitting farewell for the 'Mighty Mouse.'
“That’ll be great for the PBA. Jimmy will be given an opportunity to play a final game in the All Stars, that’ll be the best send-off, a fitting farewell,” said the veteran NLEX center.
If the PBA gives the green light to the plan, it will not be without a precedent.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson came out of retirement and played in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game after being voted in by fans. He went on to win the All-Star MVP award in the game held in Orlando, Florida.
According to Santos, the All-Star balloting will end on February 11, after which the 12 league coaches will be asked to cast their votes for the 14 reserves.
Asked about the possibility of playing one final time before PBA fans in the All-Star game, Alapag said it had not crossed his mind but nonetheless said he's open to the idea.
He also isn't sure if it's even possible.
“It’s a good idea. That’s a good question, one thing I haven’t thought about,” said Alapag, now the Talk 'N Text team manager, said when asked by Spin.ph about the possibility.
“But I don’t even know if I will be in the ballot as I have already retired. But if there’s an opportunity, there’s no reason not to do it,” he added.
Alapag, however, made it clear he will only agree to do it if he makes the All-Star team without bumping off another player who deserves to play in the midseason showcase.
And even if the fans agree, Alapag said things still need to be sorted out with the PBA.
“I am open to it, but I wouldn’t want to do it at the risk of taking the spot of somebody who deserves to be in the All Star weekend,” said the former star guard, who still regularly joins the Texters in shootarounds in practice.
As an added attraction, the game may even bring Alapag and Taulava together for one last time. Alapag’s mother is from Tacloban while his dad hails from Southern Leyte, making him eligible to play for the South team along with Taulava, who traces his roots to Samar.
“It’s North versus South, that’s gonna be fun. If I am given an opportunity to be on the floor, that will be great, to play one more game with him. That’s gonna be one of the best highlights of our careers,” added Taulava.
Alapag is thrilled by the idea, too.
“It’ll be great to be out there with Asi and the rest of the guys, one last time,” he laughed.