PUERTO PRINCESA — It was a grand setting for a going-away party, with the league’s current stars present during the midseason spectacle, but Jimmy Alapag still felt something was lacking in the celebration.
That was before former Tropang Texters teammates Kelly Williams, Harvey Carey and Danny Seigle showed up carrying a framed replica of his No. 3 jersey on Sunday’s during his retirement ceremony.
“Actually, I was telling my wife (LJ) that I felt bad my Talk ’N Text brothers won’t be at my retirement ceremony, so when they came in and held my jersey at the court, I was really blown away,” said Alapag, who played with former teammate and close friend Asi Taulava for the last time.
The 5-foot-7 playmaker got emotional — again — in yet another event celebrating his 12 amazing years in the PBA.
The former Talk ’N Text and Gilas Pilipinas skipper, now 37, had announced his retirement several months ago and has been feted for his great achievements, but the league lined him up for the All-Stars one last time.
He did not disappoint in his 12th and final All-Star appearance, scoring 12 points and dishing out 17 assists to reset the previous record of 16 he set in 2006 during the mid-season classic in Cagayan de Oro City.
“When you retire, you never know when that day will come so to be able to culminate my career in the All-Star will all the great men, my brothers from Gilas and of course, from Talk ’N Text, that’s just special,” Alapag told Spin.ph.
Chot Reyes, Alapag’s former coach with Talk ’N Text where they won multiple PBA titles, along with a silver medal finish with Gilas in the 2013 Fiba-Asia men’s championships, said his former ward’s work ethic made his coaching job easier.
“From watching the national team practice to that heartbreak in (2007 Fiba-Asia men’s championships in) Tokushima, Japan, four championships (with Talk ’N Text), MVP award and that silver medal in the Fiba-Asia and that historic win in Spain, it’s been a hell of a ride, my friend,” said Reyes, himself a multi-titled PBA coach.
“Like I said before, thank you for making my job easier and thank you for being the perfect player,” he added.
“You have so many achievements, but the best years of your life have yet to come.”
Now Alapag returns to Manila on Monday to his twin jobs, as Talk ’N Text team manager and Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach to Tab Baldwin.
The diminutive former Gilas national playmaker said he’s excited to see Philippine basketball grow through the Sinag national squad that will be bannered by collegiate stars like Jeron Teng, Kiefer Ravena, Baser Amer, Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres and Kevin Ferrer.
“The future for Philippine basketball is really bright, but one thing is there’s really no substitute for hardwork,” said Alapag.