Jimmy Alapag glad to see Meralco Bolts start to believe they belong in playoffs
Jimmy Alaapg is in back in the semifinals for the first time since coming out of retirement at the start of the season. And it feels good, the one-time PBA MVP says. Jaime Campos

MERALCO may be a young team as far as PBA playoffs is concerned. But that doesn’t mean the Bolts will just roll over and die in their Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series against the Alaska Aces.

Veteran guard Jimmy Alapag said the franchise is definitely making the most out of its second semis stint in the last conference by going for a big follow up to its come-from-behind 92-87 win over the Aces on Wednesday night.

The victory leveled the best-of-five duel at 1-1 with Game Three set Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.

“The guys believe that we belong here and that’s great,” said Alapag, who hit a clutch trey down the stretch in the Game Two win, while adding eight assists in 26 minutes of play.

“Now that we’re here in the semis, you see the team growing, and you see the team chemistry getting better.”

But for someone who’s been consistently there on top in the past, Alapag knows there’s still a lot of work ahead for the Bolts if they are to advance to the finals for the first time in franchise history.

And it will definitely take a lot to get the job done against a team as cohesive as Alaska, according to the former league MVP.

“We’re up against a championship team with a great coach. And it will take a championship-type effort for a team that is not necessarily used to being on that stage to get it done,” he said. “But we’re getting there. That big win (Game Two) was another big step forward.”

The 38-year-old Fil-Am is in back in the semifinals for the first time since coming out of retirement at the start of the season. And he feels great about it especially with the chance of making it back to the finals, where he last played during the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup while still with Tropang TNT.

“At this time last year, I was on the sideline as a manager cheering on Ivan (Johnson) and the guys at TNT,” said Alapag, who briefly acted as team manager of the Texters after retiring in 2015.

“To be back out there and competing, and to have my babies here, it means the world to me and the fact that they belong in this journey means everything to me,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos