HWASEONG, Korea — Jimmy Alapag's final order of business with Gilas Pilipinas was an emotional speech after the team ended a damned Asian Games campaign on a high note with an 84-68 win over Mongolia on Wednesday.
In an emotional scene on the bench, Alapag hugged fellow point guard LA Tenorio as he came out of the game with the outcome already settled and Gilas headed to a seventh-place finish - still the worst finish by a Philippine basketball team in Asiad history.
Emotions also poured out inside the dugout, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said, as Alapag bid farewell to his teammates at the end of his final tournament as a national player.
Alapag, according to Reyes, told the team he won’t swap the Asian Games experience for anything even though the national team missed the medal rounds.
“It was Jimmy who gave a very emotional talk at the end,” said Reyes, who had convinced Alapag to make one last run in the Asiad after announcing his retirement at the Fiba world Cup in Spain. “He thanked everyone. He wouldn’t change anything.”
Alapag didn’t play in the final few games of Gilas Pilipinas including the match against Mongolia on Wednesday due to an injury. He, however, was a key player in matches against Qatar and Korea where the team captain gave the team a fighting chance until the end.
Reyes said Alapag urged his teammates to continue wearing the Philippine colors.
“He reminded the younger guys to continue being proud to represent the country. That was the bigger story. Jimmy’s speech,” said Reyes.
Alapag later came out with a message on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. It reads:
My incredible journey with the Gilas Pilipinas National Team comes to an end today. It's been both an honor and privilege to have worn our national colors since 2002. This journey has been filled with its peaks and valleys, successes and failures, but through it all I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have had the opportunity to play alongside the best players and coaches in the country thru the years, who I have the utmost love and respect for. I stand proud with the progress Philippine basketball has made the last few years, gaining respect and admiration not just in Asia, but also around the world. We've shown the spirit, will, determination, and PUSO to compete against the best. The job now is to continue with the Gilas program, continue to work hard and improve, and continue conquering the mountains that stand ahead of us. I have enjoyed every minute of this experience. I thank Boss MVP, Boss Vargas and the rest of management, Coach Chot and the coaching staff, and my brothers on the team for the chance to be a part of something truly special. To our fans, maraming salamat sa lahat ng pagdadasal at suporta sa amin. You are the true inspiration behind Gilas Pilipinas. We fight and work everyday to make all of you proud of your team. I will miss wearing our national colors, but I'm excited at what lies ahead for the future of Philippine basketball. Til the end.... #LabanPilipinas #PUSO #TheJourney #FromSelectaToGilasPilipinas #IAmMyBrothersKeeper