VETERAN Jimmy Alapag paid the ultimate compliment to Talk ‘N Text import Richard Howell, whose blue-collar attitude has translated into the Tropang Texters’ 8-0 record in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“A lot of the credit goes to Rich Howell, a young guy, whose play obviously speaks for itself. He has brought us to where we are right now,” Alapag said, prior to the team’s Thursday practice.
The one-time league MVP said Howell’s inside presence easily plugged the hole left by man-mountain center Ali Peek, who announced his retirement before the start of the mid-season conference.
“Losing a guy like Ali Peek, who has covered us for the last five plus years, you lose his presence and you get Rich Howell, that’s huge,” he added.
The 6-8 Howell, however, won’t be playing on Friday when the team winds up its elimination round schedule against winless Globalport.
He is expected to rest his right shoulder, which he hurt after falling awkwardly during Talk ‘N Text’s 85-82 win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday.
Alapag is confident that the former North Carolina State standout will bounce back strong, especially since the team will have a 12-day break before plunging to the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
“Rich is a tough guy. I’m pretty confident he’ll be alright. Just better to be precautious at this time, but we’ll just be moving forward,” said the 36-year-old Alapag, who is now in his 11th PBA season.