NORMAN Black admitted it was a decision of the coaching staff not to field in veteran Jimmy Alapag in the stretch run of Game Four of the PBA Governors Cup finals and the outcome of the match right on the line.
The champion coach said the 38-year-old guard was feeling some ‘tightness' on his leg on Friday night that limited his mobility and brought down his exposure to just eight minutes in the 88-86 loss to Barangay Ginebra.
Black did not force Alapag to play especially when the Kings were in the middle of their huge fourth quarter run, and instead, kept back-up guard Anjo Caram on the court for most of the game.
Alapag only came back in the final 26 seconds of the game to play, but mostly to play decoy for the Bolts.
“I didn’t want to risk it,” said Black afterwards. “And my attitude is I’m not sure how long the series will go, but I know it won’t end in four games. So I just wanted to take precaution and not use him in the second half.
“The only reason I put him in the game in the last play is that I knew they would guard him and he would helped space the floor.”
Alapag went scoreless after a 17-point stint in the team’s 107-103 win in Game Three. He didn’t launch a single attempt but had three assists and a single rebound.
Black believes if the former Gilas stalwart would have his way, the warrior in him will definitely prevail.
“If he had pushed himself, he probably could have played,” said the Meralco coach.
But Black is thinking of the long term, especially with the best-of-seven series tied at 2-game apiece. Game Five is set Sunday.
“I’m just looking things in the long run, and the last thing we can afford to do is to lose him,” he said.
Black said he’ll check with the team doctor and physical therapist the condition of Alapag by Saturday.