Alapag raring to make up for lost Alab season with Brickman, Gray
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Alab Pilipinas was touted as the undisputed team to beat in last season's ASEAN Basketball League, and for good reason.
Bannered by three-time Local MVP Ray Parks and imports like former NBA player Renaldo Balkman and 7-foot-3 bruiser PJ Ramos, the Jimmy Alapag-coached squad seemed destined to repeat as champions until it all came crashing down.
Just as the team was reaching its peak form in time for the playoffs, Alab suddenly lost its fire and dropped 6 straight games, including a two-game upset sweep by Hong Kong Eastern in the first round of the playoffs.
But Alapag – now battle-hardened by stints in the PBA’s San Miguel Beermen and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings – is ready for redemption this season with some new local stars in tow.
“I'm excited. Obviously excited for the new season. We'll have some new players for the upcoming season,” he said.
“Of course everyone knows Jason Brickman, so I'm excited for him to get an opportunity to play here at home finally, after so many years.” (READ: Alapag compares Fil-Am Jason Brickman to John Stockton)
Brickman, who last played with Thai club Mono Vampire in the ABL, first suited up for the Philippines with Mighty Sports in the 2019 William Jones Cup.
Jeremiah Gray, another new addition to Alab, was also an integral part of that group that included Balkman, Eugene Phelps, Roosevelt Adams, Joseph Yeo and Gab Banal.
“[Playing] in the ABL will be his first time to really, I think, our fans here at home and our fellowmen around the region to get a chance to see him up close," Alapag said of Brickman.
“So I'm excited about the team, and obviously we're coming off a disappointing finish last year so I'm excited to get back and make another run at it.”
While Alapag remained tight-lipped on whether Balkman and Ramos will return as the team’s imports, he’s hoping that the team will get together a full roster soon.
“I'm hoping by early next week, we'll have our team,” said Alapag. “Got a little bit of a late start for our preparation for this upcoming season, so you know, we're hustling.
“But again, I'm excited about the guys we have here now, and hopefully within the next few days we'll get everyone here.”
After winning an ABL championship in his coaching debut in the 2017-2018 season, Alapag now hopes his recent coaching stints will help him adjust better to adversity and lead Alab to another successful run.
“You know, coming up short for the championship, I wanted to make sure,” he said. “When you're playing, it's easier because you just get back in the gym, you get back and you practice, and you do your skill work, whatever you have to do to prepare for the season.”
“But now as a coach, I want to make sure that I was doing my part as well in trying to grow and be better. I feel like my time with San Miguel, in the coaching staff there, and my time in Sacramento was a big help in just, in terms of the growth and improvement for myself as a coach and as a leader for this team.
“So I'm anticipating an exciting season, and looking forward to getting back at it.” – Rappler.com