During the halftime of the All-Star game in Palawan, the PBA retirement ceremony was a tribute to one of the all-time greatest guards to play in the Philippine hardcourt, Jim Olmedo “Jimmy” Alapag.
As he always pointed out during the FIBA games, “Puso” has been the theme for Alapag’s career. For despite his small frame and 5’9” height, he has been one of the distinct warriors on and off the court in recent memory.
The 6-time PBA champion was given a video tribute at the start of the ceremony that features the significant people in his basketball career including Chot Reyes, Manny Pangilinan, Commissioner Chito Salud and his mate way back in his Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals days, Asi Taulava. Also included in the video tribute were his teammates in Tropang Texters team and Gilas members.
Reyes recalls his stint with Alapag during the latter’s stint as a professional basketball player. “He is a guy who has an incredible work ethic. Has a sense of selflessness. Thank you for making my job easier, and thank you for being my coach on the floor,” says his Gilas head coach.
The 2011 PBA Most Valuable player’s jersey number was 3 was also retired, and is now an iconic digit in the Talk ‘N Text franchise, which signifies Alapag’s impact not just in the team but at Philippine basketball as a whole.
His jersey retirement was made with his teammates and his wife, LJ Moreno-Alapag together with their kids. Chito Salud commended Alapag’s hard work through the years, “Thank you for elevating the play in the Philippine Basketball Association. Thank you for lifting our hearts and spirits, giving us identity, pride, and honor. Maraming salamat Jimmy Alapag!”
Reyes’ speech also mentioned their journey as one of the best player-coach tandems in the PBA. Reyes recalled, “From that innocent meeting in 2002, to Tokushima Japan, to the championships, to the FIBA Asia, and to that historic win in Spain, it’s been a hell of a ride my friend. You have had so many achievements and your best years are yet to come.”
Afterwhich, Reyes called out the Palawan crowd to give the Mighty Mouse another round of applause.
Wife, LJ Alapag was next in line to give her message. With emotions gushing in the speech, LJ mentioned her pride for being knotted with one of the PBA greats.
“I’m really really proud of you. Thank you for being not only a basketball player, but also a great man in general. I married a legend. I love you,” she exclaimed.
Despite some pauses and emotion throughout his final message, Alapag stated his thankfulness to the fans and everyone who became a witness in his fruitful 12-year career in the PBA.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for you, best fans in the world not just here in the country. As a basketball player, you dedicate your life to training and practicing and competing against the best player in the country. I’ve been blessed to do it these past years. I just like to thank the men behind me, my teammates they’ve made my career and my life much more of a blessing,” Alapag said.
After acknowledging the presence of his family in the moment, he closed out by expressing his gratitude to everyone.
Alapag closed it out by saying, “It has been my absolute honor and pleasure to be in front of you for the last 12 years. I am proud of Philippine basketball.”
For one last time, he closed out the All-Star game with a splended 17-assist match, which set out the new record in assists in the PBA All-star game history books. Kudos Mighty Mouse, the Philippines is proud to have you play.
Photo by Nuki Sabio of PBA Images