MAKE no mistake about it: Jimmy Alapag is not out to merely make up the numbers for Gilas Pilipinas 3.0.
The 'Mighty Mouse' is out to make the team.
Though Gilas coach Tab Baldwin has made it clear that Alapag's place in the team will depend on availability of players, the former Talk 'N Text star has made it clear he's there to fight every single player in the current pool for a spot in the national team bound for the 2015 Fiba Asia championship.
The longtime Gilas leader retired from the PBA last February but was forced to unretire and join the national team since the first day of practice last Wednesday amid the spate of withdrawals that hit Baldwin's pool.
Now that he's here, the 36-year-old guard said he'll fight for a spot in the 12-man team.
Otherwise, he won't be doing his legacy justice, Alapag said.
"It wouldn't be like Jimmy Alapag if I wasn't here competing and fighting. At the same time, it (me giving my all) only helps the team in preparation for Fiba Asia," said the former PBA MVP.
"I wouldn't do the team justice if I wouldn't fight. The decision will rely on the coaching staff and coach Tab, if I'm here... I am ready to play," he added.
Alapag said he has has kept himself in top shape since his retirement, joining Talk 'N Text practice from time to time and doing his own conditioning program.
"My body is ready. Always ready. I always do workout. I have been with TNT and enjoying practice every now and then. I still kept time to get in shape," he said.
All that training came in handy when he was forced to step up after LA Tenorio and Paul Lee's availability for the latest Gilas mission became in doubt.
"It's no secret. There's a shortage of personnel right now due to health and personal reasons... I am here. I am here to help. It's really up to coach Tab what happens moving forward," said Alapag, who after his retirement stepped into new roles as Talk 'N Text manager and assistant coach of Gilas.
"Time is of the essence for us. I am here to help in whatever capacity. It's always an honor to put this jersey on," added the Mighty Mouse. "If duty calls, I will be ready!"
Alapag said that it feels good to be back on the floor with the rest of the guys, where most of the players in the pool like Asi Taulava and Dondon Hontiveros were his longtime Gilas partners.
Asked why he is so dedicated to the national team cause, Alapag gave a touching response.
"It's special to play for the country, it's who we are. Filipinos are built for this game. The passion and love we have for this game runs really within all of us," he said. "Anytime an opportunity comes to serve the country in this way, I am all for it."
See VIDEO of interview with Alapag: