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Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman

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Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman ABL Alab Pilipinas Basketball News  Renaldo Balkman Justin Brownlee Jimmy Alapag 2017-18 ABL Season

When Jimmy Alapag, Justin Brownlee, and Renaldo Balkman all graced the floor of the FilOil Flying V Center on Wednesday night, it brought back memories of the battles they had figured in.

This time around, they were under one umbrella, as Tanduay Alab Pilipinas — with Alapag at the helm and Brownlee and Balkman being the new World Imports — took on the visiting Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Still, some sense of nostalgia kicked in that night, knowing that player-turned-coach Alapag has had history with his two new foreign reinforcements, when he was still on the court fulfilling floor general duties years back.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman ABL Alab Pilipinas Basketball News  Renaldo Balkman Justin Brownlee Jimmy Alapag 2017-18 ABL Season

If there’s one guy in the Tanduay Alab club who knows Brownlee too well, it’s Alapag.

Alapag had already faced Brownlee in the PBA in last two years, both as a player and as an assistant coach to Norman Black for the Meralco Bolts. And it was an experience that, most likely, still stings the Mighty Mouse.

The former PBA MVP has lost to Brownlee and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the 2016 and 2017 Governor’s Cup Finals. And those defeats came in historic fashion: “The Shot” by Brownlee in 2016, and the loss in front of 54,000-plus in 2017.

“I got burned twice – both times in the Finals,” reflected Alapag. “There’s no secret what type of player he is. Just really thankful that he’s here to play with Alab for this ABL Season. Really fortunate to have him.”

For Brownlee, meanwhile, working with his former rival is an honor, even if he has broken Alapag’s heart twice.

“It was a great opportunity and an honor to be able to play for a guy like him, as intelligent as he is and the type of player he was, he was a great player in the PBA for many years,” said the versatile cager from Tifton, Georgia.

“Playing for somebody like that with a lot of knowledge in basketball and also a great guy, it’s a blessing for me and my career. I’ll definitely take advantage of that.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman ABL Alab Pilipinas Basketball News  Renaldo Balkman Justin Brownlee Jimmy Alapag 2017-18 ABL Season

Alapag wasn’t there at the SMART Araneta Coliseum when the infamous choking incident involving Balkman and Arwind Santos took place five years ago. Nor did he have the chance to face him in the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Of all the places, however, Alapag and Balkman crossed paths in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Just like Brownlee, Balkman has also brought pain to Alapag, when the veteran-laden Puerto Rico dealt Gilas Pilipinas a 73-77 loss in the group stage — the loss that booted the Filipino cagers out of the race for the round-of-16.

It wasn’t the ideal way to meet for both Alapag and Balkman, but it had somehow sparked a relationship that would eventually come to fruition four years later.

“A quick story about Renaldo… You know, when I saw him in Spain, he said, ‘Hey, if you ever get into coaching and the door opens up for me to come back to Manila, I’ll be ready.’ And it just worked out that he’s back,” shared Alapag.

From there, as they say, the rest is history.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Jimmy Alapag looks back on history with Justin Brownlee, Renaldo Balkman ABL Alab Pilipinas Basketball News  Renaldo Balkman Justin Brownlee Jimmy Alapag 2017-18 ABL Season

Both Brownlee and Balkman wasted no time showing what they can bring to the table. In a way, it was their way of sending a message to all the other ABL ball clubs.

Brownlee, after being silent in the first half with eight points, was all over the place afterwards and emerged as Alab’s top performer with 29 points on top of eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.

On the other hand, Balkman messed around and got himself a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards. The former New York Knick also made his presence felt on defense, collecting a game-high four steals and two blocks.

All thanks to their stellar outing, Tanduay Alab came out victorious, 90-79, to earn their second straight win after a horrible 0-3 start to the season.

“Great to have them on our side that’s for sure. They’re world-class imports. I think they’ll give us a chance. It’s gonna be important for us. Kailangan namin for this month as we continue to improve,” said Alapag after the match.

“Those guys are winners,” he furthered. “Both in their domestic league and in Puerto Rico, and obviously Justin’s success here in the Philippines but also internationally.

“We’ll definitely lean on their experience moving forward.”

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