Coaches of all three teams owned by Manny V. Pangilinan in the Philippine Basketball Association met with the business tycoon the other night, obviously to chart the course of Talk ‘N Text, Meralco and NLEX for the new year.
And involved in that discussion was one-time MVP and former national team stalwart Jimmy Alapag.
Alapag ended his tour of duty with the Gilas Pilipinas squad as possibly its greatest point guard ever, and from all indications, it looks like that the 5-foot-7 point guard will next be seen in the National squad as one of Tab Baldwin’s assistant coaches.
After playing another great tournament in the World Cup in Seville, Spain last September, Alapag’s encore came during the Inchon Asian Games in South Korea where inner team squabble led to the Philippines’ worst-ever finish of seventh place.
Alapag reiterated that he will no longer play for flag and country when Gilas 3.0, which will be handled by Baldwin at least for the next four years, is formed early this year.
“It’s time to let the others get the chance to represent our country,” Alapag said, before admitting that he is open to the idea of being tapped as a deputy of Baldwin.
“I’m absolutely open to it,” he said. “I would love to be involved in whatever capacity and help the new guys whom I am sure would be added to the pool.”
Baldwin, a New Zealander born in the United States, was formally introduced to the media as not only the new Gilas coach but the chief overseer of the national cage programs last week.
Baldwin has had great international success, steering Jordan to a second place finish behind China in the 2011 Fiba-Asia Championship, which the Chinese won in questionable fashion in their home country.
Alapag’s national career has seen and end and the ‘Mighty Mouse’ is also ripe for PBA retirement after having turned 37 on Tuesday.
Gilas will be playing in at least two big international events this year, counting the Fiba-Asia Championship tentatively slated to be held in China. The event serves as the qualifier to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
Only one Asian slot will be up for grabs in that event, unlike two years ago in Manila where the top two finishers – which turned out to be Iran and the Philippines – went to Spain for the World Cup.
Before the Fiba-Asia in China, the Philippines would likely play in the Jones Cup, which will be held a month before, to see most of its opponents up close before the big event.
The Philippines, under Chot Reyes, last won the Jones Cup in 2012 when it defeated the United States in the final elimination round playdate.