JUNE Mar Fajardo won't deny that the sport of basketball just grew on him when he was in his teens.
But one day, a player left a big impression on him while his father, Bonifacio, was watching the PBA back in their home in Pinamungajan.
Fast forward to now and that guy is an assistant coach on his team as Jimmy Alapag joins Leo Austria's staff in San Miguel.
"Naaalala ko dati ang galing niya mag-free throw eh," Fajardo recounted his first impression of Alapag when he saw him play for Talk N Text then.
It didn't take long before the two formed a bond in the national team, including a silver medal finish in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship here in Manila when the Cebuano giant was still at the primary stages of his dominance.
But this one's different, as Fajardo and Alapag will now be working day-in and day-out to help the Beermen prolong their dynasty in Asia's first pro league.
"Syempre masaya ako kasi alam naman natin kung ano yung na-achieve niya sa PBA at sa national team. Ang laki ng maitutulong niya sa team namin, lalo na sa mga guards dahil marami siyang pwedeng maibigay na advice. Happy kami na nandito siya at welcome na welcome siya dito," he said.
As much as Alapag is expected to work with guys like Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, and newcomers Terrence Romeo and Paul Zamar, Fajardo is also hoping to soon pick the brains of the former Gilas Pilipinas team captain.
"Leader siya eh. Maituturo niya yun sa amin at sa akin kasi vocal talaga siya eh," said the four-time PBA MVP, who is poised for a record-setting fifth plum to eclipse the previous mark set by PBA legends Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio.
Would Alapag's arrival mean another mentor for Fajardo to finally develop an outside shooting? The 29-year-old slotman would rather not commit on that idea just yet.
"Yung shooting sa labas, for fun lang para sa akin," he said as he often goes up for deep threes during San Miguel practices.
"Sa game, gusto naming manalo kaya doon ako sa sigurado, sa loob."