This appears on the official PBA website
Making a point: The 1-2 punch of court generals
by rick olivares
With all the attention that current Philippine Cup frontrunners Petron and Ginebra are receiving (aside from all the strong play of this year’s rookie crop), lost in the shuffle is that venerable point guard duo for Talk ‘N Text that is Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro.
Castro is tops in the Philippine Cup in scoring with a 19.83 average while Alapag is 31st on the list after pouring in 11.33 points an outing.
The partnership between the two – now on its sixth year -- has been one of the keys to the success of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.
According to TNT assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, one of the secrets to their success is of their team is the collective selflessness. “And it all starts with our captain – Jimmy – and our other court general, Jayson Castro.”
They do not mind who starts. They don’t really care. In fact, Jayson prefers to come off the bench while Jimmy doesn’t mind Jayson taking more of the scoring load for the team.”
For his part, Alapag, the 11-year veteran emphasized the selfless attitude that they have all adopted for the common good. “I have no problem handing over the reins to Jayson,” he underscored. “The whole point is to get the ‘W’ and to win a championship. We can all score a ton of points but if we don’t win then it doesn’t really count for much. It was very much like when I first came to Talk ‘N Text. There was Patrick Fran and Donbel Belano. I had to earn work my way into the rotation.”
Alapag stresses the need for accountability. “When you take accountability for all that you do -- both right or wrong -- on the court then the others will follow your lead. If I don’t make a good play then Jayson or Ryan (Reyes, the other combo guard who is equally an important part of TNT’s success) can tell me, ‘maybe you should do it this way’ and vice versa. And it’s the same for the rest of us. There’s no room for anyone’s ego in this team.”
The point guard duo of Alapag and Castro are a handful to guard. They can torch opposing teams from the outside and drive in for a strong lay-up against the oak tree centers of the league.
In their six years together, the two have combined for 24.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game. And the duo has won five championships in their time together in Talk ‘N Text. “Sana meron pa kaming mapapanalunan,” wished the mild-mannered Castro.
They are the most successful point guard duo since the 1-2 punch of Johnny Abbarientos and Jun Reyes who won eight titles with Alaska in six seasons.
Reyes reflected on his run with the man called ‘the Flying A’: “Practices for me were harder than the games. That is because I was guarding the best point guard in practices every day. It made guarding other point guards easier.”
The duo’s finest hour was in 1996 when they led Alaska to a Grand Slam (they also won 10 championships together). Abbarientos was named league MVP while Reyes was voted as ‘Mr. Quality Minutes.’
However, Reyes points to another long-running point guard team. That of the San Miguel Beermen’s Hector Calma and Franz Pumaren.
Both played for nine years for San Miguel while winning a bunch of titles.
“For me,” said Reyes of the Calma-Pumaren duo, “they were the best. They complimented each other well. Hec was poised, very cerebral and a perimeter player while Franz was rugged and physical and could shoot from long range. They almost had equal playing time and their team’s level of play never faltered.”
“It’s good to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys (Abbarientos-Reyes and Calma-Pumaren),” said Alapag. “But that’s really something we can both look back later on when our careers are done. Right now, defending the All-Filipino championship for a third time while going four a four-peat is a handful. It’s a challenge, I’ll say.”
Concluded Arespacochaga, “With Jimmy and Jason (Ryan Reyes is still out with an injury), they give us a chance to win on any day. And hopefully, a fourth consecutive Philippine Cup championship.”