Except for that anxious moment of wearing a different uniform, Jimmy Alapag was still satisfied with the way he performed in his first game since coming back from a brief retirement.
Alapag, now sporting the colors of the Meralco Bolts, scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting while adding two rebounds and eight assists but his new team fell to the defending PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Not as good as I thought it would be, maybe because it was dark blue and not the regular blue and yellow (colors of Talk ‘N Text),” said Alapag, who played 12 seasons for TNT before retiring at the end of last season’s Philippine Cup.
“But it felt good… would have felt a little better with a win. Then again, I’m very thankful to still be part of the league, and to be in a position to mentor some of these younger guys.”
Alapag, who turns 38 on Dec. 30, had served as Talk ‘N Text team manager before deciding to make a comeback with Meralco.
The 5-foot-11 guard believes that the Bolts have the pieces to compete for the championship this conference because the team boasts of a mixture of veteran players and youngsters.
Rookie forward Chris Newsome, selected fourth overall in the draft, already showed what he can do when he marked his pro debut by posterizing San Miguel’s Arwind Santos with a one-handed slam in the third quarter. The former Ateneo star finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Baser Amer, who Meralco picked at No. 7, will join the team after last night’s NCAA championship series between his San Beda Red Lions and Letran Knights.
For Alapag, the opportunity to mentor Newsome, Amer and forward Cliff Hodge was one of the reasons why he decided to return on the hardcourt, saying: “That’s what the game is all about, giving back, and I’m excited about it.”
Alapag will be among the Bolts’ senior statesmen along with former Gilas Pilipinas teammate Gary David and Reynel Hugnatan. The squad also has Rey Guevarra, Kelly Nabong, free agent pick-ups Ronjay Buenafe and Bryan Faundo and the returning Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
“I think we got great pieces. Of course, anytime you join a new team, there’s always that feeling out process a little bit. But the guys are working hard and that’s always the first step. We let the game get away from us in the fourth quarter (against SMB), but I thought we played pretty well.”
“It’s the first game, and we have another week before we play again on Friday,” added Alapag as the Bolts will next face the Blackwater Elite on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
History also looms for Alapag as he needs just three assists to surpass Bolts assistant Ronnie Magsanoc for sixth place in the league’s all-time assist list.
Magsanoc had 3,228 assists during his career with Shell, Sta. Lucia and Purefoods while Alapag has 3,226.