JIMMY Alapag welcomed with open arms on Sunday the Korean big man who proved to be a thorn in the side of Gilas Pilipinas during the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship.
Over sumptuous dinner, the retired Meralco point guard showed love to former foe Seung Jun Lee by welcoming him as one of two imports who will reinforce Alab Pilipinas in the new season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
The 6-foot-8 Lee, born in the US to a Korean mother and schooled at the University of Portland, and later Seattle Pacific, was a back-up power forward with the Korea team that engaged Gilas in a dramatic semifinal match-up during the FIBA World qualifying tournament held in Manila three years ago.
“Battled on the court in 2013 in one of the most memorable games in Philippine basketball history,” said Alapag on his Instagram account where he posted a photo of him with Lee and Alab Pilipinas co-owner Charlie Dy, who also represents the former PBA MVP.
“Great to see Seung Jun Lee back in Manila playing for @alabpilipinas in the ABL.”
Alapag and the Filipinos won the game in overtime, 86-79, to earn a berth in the World Basketball Championship for the first time after a 35-year absence.
Lee finished with 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists in a losing cause for the Sokors. His dunk in the final 4:18 mark and a free throw gave Korea a 75-73 lead in what proved to be the team’s final stand before losing steam going home.
Alapag admitted reminiscing with Lee about the game just in passing.
“We talked briefly about our game vs. Korea in 2013,” said Alapag, now a deputy coach with the Meralco Bolts shortly after announcing his retirement prior to the new PBA season. “We also just caught up on each other’s careers both in the PBA and the KBL (Korea Basketball League).”
Lee played in the KBL from 2009 to 2016, suiting up for the Seoul SK Knights just recently. He also had stints in the US, Luxembourg, Brazil, and the Singapore Slingers, and once saw action with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Summer League, and the Sacramento Kings during an NBA pre-season game.
Alapag said his friendship with Lee goes a long way.
“I’ve actually known him since he played for the Singapore Slingers before he joined the KBL,” said the pro league’s all-time leader for most three-point shots made.
“It’s great to see him, and this time playing for the Alab team in the ABL.”