Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The One-Team Club: Alvin Patrimonio & Jimmy Alapag

This appears in

The One-team club
by rick olivares 
alvin patrimonio photo from czar julius
jimmy alapag pic from

By the end of the 2012-13 PBA season, a total of 850 Filipino players have suited up in the Philippine Basketball Association.  If you add up the number of imports through the years as well as the rookies for the 2013-14 season, the number will swell to about a thousand players.

Of that total of over a thousand players, there is a select group that stuck it out with only one team. In fact, there are only nine of them.

This is a group that is just as exclusive as that 1,000 games or 10,000 points club for there are very few of them.

Alvin Patrimonio – Purefoods 17 years
Danny Ildefonso – San Miguel, Magnolia, Petron 15 years
Rey Evangelista – Purefoods 14 years
Jayjay Helterbrand – Ginebra 13 years *
Mark Caguioa – Ginebra 12 years *
Jimmy Alapag – Talk ‘N Text 11 years *
Harvey Carey – Talk ‘N Text 11 years *
James Yap - Purefoods, B-Meg, San Mig 10 years *
Samboy Lim – San Miguel 10 years

There are two others who spent nine years with one team – Hector Calma with San Miguel and Bal David with Gordon’s Gin/Ginebra.

If Danny Ildefonso suits up for another team, that list will be trimmed down to seven.

It is fascinating to see these five active players – Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa for Ginebra, Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey for Talk ‘N Text, and James Yap for San Mig Coffee -- keep on going with one team despite living in this age of free agency, the constant influx of college talents and Fil-Ams, and the few teams in the pro league.

Think of it this way in NBA terms – it’s Magic Johnson finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s Larry Bird playing in Boston green forever.

It is the same thing with these PBA players.

I spoke with a couple of these players – one retired and one active – about their being in the One-Team Club.

Alvin Patrimonio (Purefoods 1988-2005)
The cool thing about the Captain is that in his 17 years with Purefoods, he is a member of an elite cub where he suited up for 857 games and is a part of several statistical milestones: 10,000 points; 2,000 assists; 2,000 defensive rebounds; and 1,000 offensive rebounds clubs.

Patrimonio is the only one in the One-Club List to have amassed all those records. No one else come close.

Rick: Alvin, what do you think of being one of nine people to have played for only one team for over 10 years? Seventeen years with Purefoods in fact.

Alvin: Wow. Ganyan katagal ba talaga? Hindi ko na naisip yan. It means that I made the most out of my God-given talent and had a good attitude towards the game. When you’re there in the PBA, you have to maximize your opportunities because not everyone is given that chance as you said in your research. It’s having the talent and a good attitude. When you combine the two you get a good result. I am thankful for that.

Rick: Was there ever a time that you thought about moving to another team or was nearly traded?

Alvin: When my first contract with Purefoods (from 1988-1991) expired, I was given an offer sheet by Pepsi. I was thinking of already moving when Purefoods matched the offer. I felt blessed that they wanted me to stay. I told myself that if I sign this new contract with Purefoods dito ko na tatapusin yung career ko. The rest is history.

It was also part of my maturation process.

Rick: The average career of a PBA player pegged at five years. Why do you think that is so?

Alvin: If you look at the last PBA Draft, ang daming applicants. Umabot pa sa seventh round. Maraming pumapasok na talented rookies at marami rin mga Fil-Americans so mas mahirap mag-stay sa league. If you can play multiple positions and constantly improve your skills, you will have many options. The coach will find you useful.

Rick: How did you psyche yourself year after year? Season after season?

Alvin: Lagi binabanggit yang ‘hard work’ pero yun talaga. If you don’t work hard wala kang playing time. Wala kang playing time nandoon ka sa dulo ng bench.

Nung matagal na ako sa Purefoods, I realized that not only was I a leader but I was also an ambassador for the team. So it helps that meron kang good attitude. Reward din eventually yun na gawin akong team manager.

Being responsible helps. Ang natutunan ko sa basketball ay punuin mo yung sarili mo ng good attitudes. Yung heart o puso kasama na diyan. That will give you the strength to take on the challenges.

Rick: How did your game change from your first years in the league to your last?

Alvin: Nung nasa Mapua ako, I worked on my perimeter shot more than my post up game. Sa PBA iba na. So sa poste ako nag-concentrate para mas-high percentage yung shot mo. Over the years, when dumami na yung mga Fil-Am na mas malaki sa akin, I went back to my perimeter shot. At that time, I had Boyet Fernandez as a teammate and he was such a great shooter. He challenged me to improve my three-point shooting. And from the post, I learned to pass better. Siguro it comes with having good hands and not butterfingers.

Rick: What would be your advice to the players in the league today when it comes to staying with one club?

Alvin: Always do your best and stay loyal. You will be rewarded.

Jimmy Alapag (Talk ‘N Text 2003-today)
Jimmy Alapag has played 499 games for the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. When they take on GlobalPort on Tuesday, December 3, it will be his 500th game for the franchise. The most in team history.

Known for his booming threes and daredevil drives inside the lane, TNT’s team captain believes he still has a lot more to offer to PBA fans.

Rick: Jimmy, what do you think of being one of nine people to have played for only one team for over 10 years? You’re in your 11th year with Talk ‘N Text.

Jimmy: It’s a blessing to stay with TNT and be a part of all their success. I know that it is rare to stay with one team in this day and age. One day you’re in and the next you’re out. What can I say except I’m a lucky guy.

Rick: As it turns out, Harvey Carey too is just as lucky as you are because he has been with the team for just as long.

Jimmy: It is funny how our career has been parallel with one another. Do you know that I played against him in college?

Rick: Really now? Amazing. But how so?

Jimmy: I played for the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes while Harvey’s from Sonoma State. We were in the NCAA Division II in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Rick: Nice! Was there ever a time that you thought about moving to another team or was nearly traded?

Jimmy: Moving to another team? No. But if the team (TNT) wanted to trade me to another club – it is not something that I am aware of. (laughs). You didn’t hear anything about any possible trade, Rick? (laughs)

Rick: No. (laughs) Not at all. I am very very sure.

Jimmy: During the 2003 PBA Draft (Harvey was selected fourth overall by TNT), I thought that if no one got me at number ten, then it would be nice to go to Ginebra that had the 11th pick. But Talk ‘N Text traded up with Alaska to get the 10th pick and they selected me. And that’s how it happened.

Rick: The average career of a PBA player pegged at five years. Why do you think that is so?

Jimmy: I think that the talent level goes up every year. Kids are getting better coaching and that shows not just in the college game but also in the national team. That certainly puts pressure on everyone currently playing in the PBA to bring their A-game every night.

Rick: How did you psyche yourself year after year? Season after season?

Jimmy: I literally get up for every season. The competition constantly pushes me to get better. You cannot just rest on your laurels. If you do, you’ll get eaten up. Plus, I’d like to win a few more championships. That also constantly motivates me. And I don’t just want to be a good player -- I want to be a great player.

Rick: How did your game change from your first years in the league to your style today?

Jimmy: When I was much younger, I would take advantage of my athleticism and really get to the basket when I want to. It is very similar to what Jason Castro is doing now for us. As you get older, you have to make adjustments. You also take the small details a lot more seriously. Like dieting, stretching, and icing your knees. I try to play a smart and efficient game. You read all the situations on the floor when you’re on the bench so when you’re on the floor, you have a sense of what to do. And I keep working on my outside shot. If you can make that shot with a lot of consistency, you will always find a spot on any roster.

Rick: Pardon this question but how long do you see yourself still playing pro ball?

Jimmy: No worries. I hold myself to certain standards. When it comes to a point where I cannot sustain that level of play that I am accustomed to; when the time comes that the game is no longer fun, then I know it’s time to call it a career.

Rick: Now that I told you that Alvin Patrimonio played for 17 years for one club, will you try to catch him or break his record?

Jimmy: (laughs) No. Honestly, I am not thinking about that. I am looking at our next game and defending our championship. But I’d love to finish my career with Talk ‘N Text.

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