LAS VEGAS, USA – Jimmy Alapag’s coaching stint with the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League really opened some doors for him, not just when it cames to learning the workings of an NBA team, but alson in getting to meet and hear from other coaches.
One of them was Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, whom he met at the National Basketball Coaches Association Summit.
“I’ve met him a couple of times when he’s visited Manila. On this trip being here in Vegas, we had a chance to talk at the Coaches Summit,” he told Rappler.
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Great seeing 2 time NBA Champion of the Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra here at the NBA Coaches Summit in Las Vegas. Honored to listen and learn more from some of the best minds in the game. #NBA #SummerLeague #LasVegas #CoachesSummit #MiamiHeat #SacramentoKings #Listen #Learn #Grow #Filipinos #Champions @sacramentokings @miamiheat
For Alapag, it was great to be able to hear from some of the great minds in basketball like Los Angeles Clipper head coach Doc Rivers and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle.
“To be just be there, to listen and learn and take lot of notes. I felt like I was back in college again which was a long, long time ago. I think I have 40 pages of notes that I took with my time there. I’m just really happy to be there.”
Alapag said that he gained a lot of insight into team building. (READ: Alapag says Kings coaching stint ‘has been everything’)
“One thing that the coaches preach in terms of successful teams is culture. Understanding the culture of the team is everything. Pushing that communication and establishing that trust, establishing that work ethic needs to be there for any successful team. Every coach, whether Doc or coach Spo, they all preach that.”
“Culture is so important for a team to be successful. Making sure that the guys are on the same page. Everybody understands the goal. Everybody wants to do it together and make sacrifices.”
Transition from player to coach
Alapag knows all too well that he has a long way to go in creating a successful coaching career.
He started in 2015 as an assistant coach for Gilas Pilipinas before he got his full baptism of fire when he was tasked to handle Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) two years later.
“It was an adjustment. I really, really enjoyed coaching in the ABL (and) in the last two years I’ve grown so much as a coach. I’ve grown so much as a leader, as a mentor,” Alapag recalling those big moments.
“I still remember my first game. I was so nervous. Because when you’re playing, you can really use the adrenaline of seeing the big crowd and just playing and being out there in the middle of the action.”
“But when you’re coaching, it’s so important to separate yourself from the emotional part of the game and kind of be poised because you’ve got to be thinking quick during the course of the game.”
Alapag also used his stay in the US for the next couple of weeks to reconnect with some of his old mentors.
“Early on, I had two coaches who I grew up with at an early age all the way from almost grade school all the way through to high school. Even still today, they are very close mentors of mine – Jeff Kline, who’s actually a head coach at a JV college. And then there’s Derek Wynn. (He and his wife are actually the associate head coach and head coach of the University of Washington Huskies women’s team.) They’re two very influential people in my life. They taught me a lot of life lessons at an early age.”
“When you’re in high school, I don’t think you really process and understand the value of those lessons at that age. But here I am at 41, almost 42 and I still remember those lessons a long time ago.”
But top of mind, Alapag credits his father Crispin as his role model of being a good leader.
“I think first and foremost, I think of my dad. You know, seeing what he did for our family. All these years, I have this vision of him waking up super early to go to work, tried to provide the best for the family. He someone that sets that example of what it takes to lead and raise a family.” – Rappler.com