Jimmy Alapag, to put it simply, is one of the most legendary players in Filipino basketball history. He’s won six championships, two gold medals, an MVP award, and has been named an All-Star 11 times across a 14-year playing career in the Philippines Basketball Association.
Since his retirement in 2016, his love of the game has guided him into coaching but this summer, he’s gotten the chance of a lifetime: working in the NBA.
“I actually reached out to [Kings General Manager] Vlade [Divac] because we’re on the FIBA Players Commission together,” said Alapag. “I said ‘Hey Vlade, I’ve been coaching now for the last three years and just wanted to reach out and see if there might be an opportunity to work with you guys.’”
Sacramento’s GM was quick to respond and offered a position to help coach the Summer League squad in Las Vegas. Jimmy responded with “an emphatic yes”.
Alapag was born and raised in Riverside, California to Filipino immigrant parents and first picked up a basketball when he was a three-year-old.
He parlayed his four years of college hoops at UC Riverside into becoming the 10th overall selection in the 2003 PBA Draft.
Throughout his highly successful career in the Philippines, Jimmy became known as Mighty Mouse - not just for his 5-foot-9 stature - but because of his superhero qualities on the court.
Though the Philippines is known to be one of the most hoops-obsessed nations in the world, there is not much representation in the NBA to match. Because of this, Jimmy knew that this opportunity was an important step to begin to change that.
“Our country has such a deep love and passion for the game of basketball,” said Alapag. “To be able to represent that with the Kings has been great.”
Jimmy announced his new opportunity on Instagram and was met with a massive outpouring of support from his fans and fellow Filipinos.
“It means everything to me.”
While looking to pass along helpful information as a coach in Las Vegas, Alapag also said the he tried to absorb as much knowledge as he could.
“The great part about this game is that you’re always growing - whether as a player or as a coach,” he said.
Sactown won two of its five games during its Summer League stint and will now look ahead to the upcoming 2019-20 campaign. Even in this short time with an NBA team, there has been a lasting impact on Alapag as he looks to continue his coaching career.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”