Loyal soldiers

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Rey Joble

The Link

The only thing permanent in this world is change and that in the truest sense of the word was best exemplified by Jimmy Alapag, the guy who spent his playing career for 14 seasons under the MVP Group of Companies.

Known as The Mighty Mouse, Alapag started his career with Talk ‘N Text in 2003 and as a rookie, he won the team’s first ever championship that same year.

He became part of the Tropang Texters’ six championship squads before he would temporarily retire, but would resurface to play for the Meralco Bolts, his previous squad’s sister company for the 2015-2016 season.

There, at Meralco, he would break the all-time record of Allan Caidic for most three-point shots and he retired making 1,250 career treys.

After retirement, he would continue serving as an assistant coach both of the Bolts and Gilas Pilipinas under head coaches Tab Baldwin and Chot Reyes. His involvement with Alab Pilipinas, which would eventually be bankrolled by San Miguel Beer in the Asean Basketball League and a team he would led to the championship last year, opened his involvement with the MVP Group’s rival company.

It came as no surprise though that Alapag was named assistant coach of the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA to join the coaching staff headed by Leo Austria.

Why am I not surprised to see Alapag, who had shown his loyalty to the MVP Group for 13 years, moving to the SMC fold?

Tim Cone, the coach who was even mistakenly identified by long-time subscriber of Alaska as “the little boy in the can,” and would coach the Aces for 22 years, would eventually jump ship to the SMC fold.

After winning 13 championships with Alaska, Cone would lead the old Purefoods franchise to five championships, including his second grand slam. He would transfer to Ginebra, the PBA’s most popular team and sister company of Purefoods, to three more championships.

Jong Uichico, a loyal soldier of SMC and has been associated as the most diligent protégé of Ron Jacobs, would also transfer to the MVP Group of Companies despite his success with his previous mother company.

Uichico took over the team coached by his long-time mentor, the Beermen, and would quickly win a championship in just his first season. Overall, he would win six championships with San Miguel Beer before he was shipped to Ginebra, a team he led to two titles.

When Uichico has disagreements with SMC management, which was trying to put him as an alternate board governor and being demoted from a head coach to assistant of Siot Tanquingcen, the former La Salle stalwart transferred to the MVP Group where he served as an assistant coach to Ryan Gregorio before being named head coach of TNT.

There, at TNT, Uichico would win a championship. Uichico would also serve as an assistant coach to Chot Reyes at Gilas Pilipinas and would spearhead the Philippine men’s basketball team in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.

So even the most loyal soldiers would also leave their posts once opportunity arises. It may be hard to imagine seeing them in different squads, knowing their long associations with a certain entity.

But these individuals are out there just to continue pursuing what they loved the most – and that is being linked to basketball – whatever capacity it may be.

At least not in the case of Cone, who has been a champion in all of the teams he’s involved with.

Life goes on for them whatever teams they’re involved with.


Rey Joble is a member of the PBA Press Corps and Philippine Sportswriters Association.