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Alapag to play today in All-Star game

Jimmy Alapag

Game Today (Puerto Princesa City Coliseum)
4 p.m. – North vs South

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – Jimmy Alapag will play his farewell game today in this year’s PBA All-Star Game.

Alapag, 37, who recently hung up his jersey after playing 13 seasons for Talk ‘N Text, has been chosen as the 13th man for the South All-Stars who play against the North at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum.

The All-Star game is set at 4 p.m. with the North holding a 6-4 lead over the South.

The 5-foot-9 Alapag won six titles and the coveted MVP plum in 2011. He also wore the national jersey many times, including the last FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Named co-MVP with then TNT teammate Asi Taulava in the 2004 All-Stars, Alapag will be making his 12th All-Star Game appearance.

“I’ve been really blessed to play the game that I love, and this one will give me an opportunity to give back to the game and say thank you to the fans, say goodbye to the game,” said Alapag who was Rookie of the Year in 2003.

“It will be definitely be an emotional one. Well I hope not (to cry)… I don’t know. We’ll see. But I’ll surely give my best since this will be the final one for me in terms of playing basketball,” added Alapag.

Alapag’s parents are here along with wife LJ Moreno and their two children.

The idea to include Alapag, now the team manager of TNT and a member of the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff, came from the PBA which will retire his TNT jersey during the halftime break.

The 42-year-old Taulava, who now plays for the NLEX Road Warriors, has been voted as a starter for the South Team.

“Yeah, that’s for sure. It will be fun too playing again with my brother Jimmy,” said Taulava, who played with Alapag with TNT and several national team stints.

“Knowing that this’ll be his last All-Star Game, and who knows for me, we’ll definitely go out there and enjoy the time. Hopefully we can also get the win for the team,” added Taulava.

Other players are also looking forward to the game are Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood, who both played with Alapag in the World Cup and in the last Asian Games in South Korea.

“Si kuya Jimmy maraming naitulong sa akin yan, mga advice na nabigay nya lalo nung mag-kasama kami sa Gilas Pilipinas. Kaya masaya ako na maging part ako ng All-Star Game kasi lalaro sya,” said Lee.

“It will be fun, it will be emotional for him, it’s going to be exciting. Playing with Jimmy is an honor, and to be part of this All-Star Game, it will be a memorable one for all of us,” said Norwood.

This will be the 11th time that the PBA will be using the format of North versus South in the All-Star Game, although this marks the first time that the two teams will clash in four years.

The last time the league used this format was in 2011 when the annual event was held in Boracay, Aklan as the North All-Star Team won, 133-129. That gave North a 6-4 advantage against its South rivals.

The last time the South won against the North was in Bacolod City in 2008 via overtime, 163-158, which was the highest scoring output in the history of the PBA’s All-Star Game.

The North team – to be handled by coach Leo Austria of Philippine Cup champion SMB – will also have as starters Purefoods’ Marc Pingris and Justin Melton, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva, and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, who will take the spot at the starting unit injured Mark Caguioa.

The reserves are Lee, Norwood, SMB’s Arwind Santos, Beau Belga of ROS, TNT’s Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo and Globalport’s Terrence Romeo.

Also voted as starters with the 6-foot-10 Taulava are Purefoods’ James Yap and Mark Barroca, and Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter. SMB’s June Mar Fajardo was has also been voted but will also skip the event because of a left sprained ankle, and will be replaced by Purefoods’ Joe Devance.

The reserves are Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio, Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan, PJ Simon of Purefoods, Globalport’s Stanley Pringle, and Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan.