SAN Miguel Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag insisted he remained open to coaching a college team in the future despite declining an offer to coach La Salle in the UAAP.
Alapag confirmed he received an offer from La Salle to coach the Green Archers after the team failed to make it to the Final Four in UAAP Season 81, but had to decline the offer due to a conflict with his duties as Alab coach.
But the former Gilas Pilipinas captain isn't closing the door on coaching in college basketball down the road.
“It was just timing,” Alapag said on Sunday. “Maybe sometime down the road.”
Jermaine Byrd, a former assistant coach of NBA G-League teams Tulsa 66ers, Sioux Falls Skyforce, and the LA Defenders, was appointed as La Salle head coach after Alapag took himself out of the equation.
Byrd, the ex-player development coach of Samsung Blue Minx and Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean league, is taking over the Green Archers in January.
Alapag said he has no choice but to decline the offer since the school was going to start its preparations for Season 82 of the UAAP in January, running right smack into Alab's campaign for a title repeat in the ABL.
“They asked if I was interested in the job. I was very interested. I thought it was a great opportunity to coach a distinguished program like La Salle. I didn’t go to college here but I know the history and tradition. I was really blown away by the opportunity,” Alapag said.
“Only problem is they are going to start in January. I’m still here (at Alab) until end of April or May. My feeling was, whoever takes that job needs to be with those kids from Day One and I wouldn’t be able to commit the time and energy in January.
"I can do it in May. Pero malapit na UAAP because the UAAP starts in early September. It’s just timing,” he added.
Nevertheless, Alapag was thankful to La Salle led by team patron Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco for offering him the job.
“I was humbled by the offer. I appreciate Boss Danding for reaching out. I felt it was a great opportunity not just to be part of La Salle but the opportunity to coach college kids. When you coach college kids, it’s not just coaching. It’s also mentoring. Most of those kids watched me play and to be able to share my experience with them, I was looking forward to it.
“But it was just going to be too tough knowing that I’m going to be with Alab until May. I didn’t feel like I would do the program and do the school any justice by going there too late,” said Alapag.
Alapag said he will strive to continue improving as a coach.
“With this coaching, I want to continue to get experience. I still have a lot to learn. And that’s the challenge now when you are coaching just like when you are playing. When you are playing, you are working on your game. When you are coaching, you always try to figure out ways to coach better, whether its plays, whether it’s schemes, or whatever it might be.
“I’m really open to anything. But right now, my focus is on Alab, try to win this championship and I just didn’t feel like it would be right if I was having to split my time and energy because that job requires, whoever he is going to be three, to be committed fully,” Alapag said.