Jimmy Alapag is confident in his ability to handle a team, and he has "Hall of Fame" coaches to thank for that.
"I feel very, very fortunate to still be connected to the game the way I am, being a coach and still being in the trenches. I was very fortunate throughout my career to play with a lot of Hall of Fame coaches," said Alapag, who is just three years into his coaching foray. "I was excited to take on the challenge of becoming a coach."
During a webinar hosted by Hoop Coaches International and Blackwater team consultant Ariel Vanguardia on Sunday, Alapag, currently the Alab Pilipinas coach, named four mentors throughout his career that helped shaped him into a successful competitor after retirement.
First on his list is former National University head coach Jamike Jarin, who was an assistant coach at Talk 'N Text early in the decade and taught Alapag to be a free-thinker when it came to learning about the game.
"I just think he's a great basketball mind, had a huge influence on me just in terms of challenging me and getting me to enjoy the game and now as a coach, to not be afraid to think outside the box," he shared. "I think the game's always evolving, so I think it's important to keep an open mind to whatever concepts you might learn on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively."
Current Meralco head coach Norman Black had also a big influence on Alapag during their time together at Talk 'N Text, where they won a title together, and during Alapag's farewell season with the Bolts in 2015.
"I just think coach Norman's attention to detail... he's very, very tedious in terms of game plan and I feel very fortunate that before I retired, before I spent that year with Alab, to have spent a year with him and to just really see his work ethic in terms of really covering all parts of the game to keep the team prepared going into a game," he said.
Alapag also drew some important traits from two of his former Gilas Pilipinas coaches in Chot Reyes and Tab Baldwin.
"We had a lot of success together," he said of Reyes. "He was big on the relationships we had within our team, which I felt was a big reason for our success, both with Talk 'N Text and with the national team."
On Baldwin, Alapag said: "I think he taught me to not be afraid to challenge your players. I think about all the time with the national team and seeing what he's done with the Ateneo team, he really challenges his players to be better than what you might even think in your own mind that you can be. Obviously he had a huge part in our preparation for the 2013 FIBA Asia and the World Cup in Spain the following year, and of course we all know what he's done with Ateneo."
While Alapag certainly benefited from being around the presence of proven winners, he said the gratifying feeling in teaching the younger generation was also a huge factor that made his transition to coaching feel "natural."
"I think first and foremost, I'm a huge fan of the game. My wife gives me a hard time because I'm watching and talking basketball all the time," Alapag laughed. "And I think the thing for me now, as a player, your fulfillment comes from working on your game, trying to be the best player or the best teammate that you can be and ultimately, being in a position to win championships. But I feel like now as a coach, the fulfillment comes from being able to share everything that you've learned.
"And I was lucky to play the game for 14 years, spend a lot of time with the national team. So having an opportunity now to coach younger players and help them from some of the experiences I've picked up throughout the years, that's where my fulfillment comes now. I'm really enjoying coaching and I love to see our guys succeed."