What drives players to come back from retirement? Is it so they could capture more rings? Is there an empty space in their trophy cabinet that they wish to fill? Or is it because deep down in their minds and hearts, they know they still have more to give?
At 37 years of age, Philippine basketball icon Jimmy Alapag dusted off his basketball shoes and announced his comeback from retirement. A 6-time PBA champion and former captain of the Gilas Pilipinas national squad, the “Mighty Mouse” is not quite ready to hang it up for good.
“I knew from the day that I retired, I knew I was going to miss it (basketball),” said Alapag. Despite the big changes and challenges that stand before him, Alapag is back in the game, suited up for the Meralco Bolts (having been traded away by Talk ‘N Text, by way of Blackwater Elite), and ready to wear the Philippines’ colors again as part of the national team, Gilas Pilipinas 3.0.
Alapag found a new reason to return to the hardcourt. “Not only did I miss the game but there’s a little added motivation…I have my two kids. My son is a big fan of the game and coming back in and having the opportunity to have him at the games to see his dad play, I want to make sure I’m ready.”. Taking into account the Gilas’ current situation that sees many current Philippine basketball stars begging off from the FIBA Asia competition makes the retired Alapag’s decision to answer the call more notable.
“He stayed in shape even though he retired,” said Jimmy’s long time teammate and friend, Asi Taulava. “I’ve been watching him and every time I see him, he doesn’t look like he’s retired, because some guys when they get retired, they gain weight and start not wanting to work out.”
Alapag retired with an illustrious career and without a doubt, he has nothing left to prove. We have yet to see the impact of his return to Philippine basketball or what he could achieve at this point in his career. However, what we can be sure of is that Alapag’s basketball journey is not yet over. We can count on him to suit up and pour his heart out with every play knowing his kids are watching him. We can count on him to teach our young stars what it’s like to play for the love of basketball and not only for personal gain. We can count on him to ignite the cheers of the entire nation with his pull-up dagger threes and relentless attacks to the rim. The old captain is out to complete his true legacy that goes beyond statistics, accolades or setting records – a legacy not for him to be glorified by many, but for the future of Philippine basketball.
For a proven player like Jimmy Alapag, his love for the game is enough to bring him back from retirement. He doesn’t need to fill the stat sheets anymore to prove his greatness, but he’s more than willing to share with the future stars of Philippine basketball the wisdom that he gained throughout his career. His love for the game is so strong that it overflowed to his two kids who cannot wait to see him playing with the Philippines’ and the world’s best on the hardcourt.
For the purest of passions and an ageless love for the game – Jimmy Alapag is back.