JIMMY Alapag admits it’s not easy concentrating on winning the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title and at the same time preparing for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
Not that he’s complaining. It’s one big sacrifice indeed, but something which the former league MVP wouldn’t trade for anything else.
“It’s (playing for the national team) an opportunity that others would die to have, and we’re the fortunate ones to be here,” said Alapag, one of seven Tropang Texters named to the 17-man Gilas Pilipinas national pool.
“It’s just important for all us to take care of ourselves, especially physically. And as tough as it is to prepare to win this championship in the Commissioner’s Cup, at the same time, there is also the bigger picture which is August,” he added, referring to the qualifying tournament for next year’s Fiba-World Basketball Championship which the country is hosting for the first time in 40 years.
Alapag is joined in the national pool by Talk `N Text teammates Kelly Williams, Larry Fonacier, Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, and Jared Dilinger – the most number of players from any PBA team.
Together, they join the rest of the Nationals every Monday during their once-a-week practice.
“It’s obviously tough especially with seven of us right here,” said the 35-year-old point guard shortly after their latest practice at the Philsports Arena before the Lenten break. “But it’s part of our commitment and sacrifice, and we’re all honored and we’re all blessed to be playing for the national team.”
With four months left before the Fiba-Asia tournament, the oldest member of the team reminded that it’s important for every one of them to be on the same page.
“I think the most important thing is we build the camaraderie with all the guys. We see each other so much in the years of (PBA) competition as opponents. And now, we can all be here together and we’re fighting here for one goal. And that one goal is not just for us but also for the country,” he added.
Alapag suited up for the national team during the 2007 FIBA-Asia tilt, leading the team in both scoring and assists with 16 points and 2.8 assists per contest.