PBA: Veteran Jimmy Alapag savors return to finals with Bolts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Before Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, seasoned guard Jimmy Alapag welcomed some of his less experienced teammates to the finals.

“Welcome to the Finals, Cliff!” Alapag shouted before teammate Cliff Hodge stepped out of the dugout.

Hodge, and the rest of the Meralco Bolts rose to the occasion as they shocked Barangay Ginebra 114-109 on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Alapag led by example by hitting a crucial three pointer to give Meralco the lead in the clutch, which gave the Bolts the momentum to close out the game.

“Cap, he's been doing it all season,” Bolts import Allen Durham said. “Doing it in the clutch, hitting the shots you don’t expect. It just got us excited and pushed us over the hump.”

That triple also brought Alapag’s career total of three pointers to 1,242, which ties the all-time PBA record for three pointers made.

But Alapag was just happy to hit a shot to help give his team the win.

“During the game, it is just trying to make shots to help us win,” Alapag said. “You don’t want to get caught up in thinking about a record or thinking about anything else. It’s just trying to win.”

When pressed on how he feels his younger teammates performed, Alapag believes that the time is ripe for the young Bolts.

“They’re ready for this, I know Cliff has waited a long time. He has been with the franchise from the beginning. He has been through a lot some of the more down times for Meralco in the past,” Alapag said.

The six-time PBA champion knows to better appreciate each milestone in his career. For the Bolts, Alapag hopes that he can help the rest of his teammates truly appreciate and enjoy their matchup against Ginebra.

“To be in the finals again at this stage of my career, I know how special it is. You never know when you’re going to get back,” Alapag added. “I just tried to really encourage our younger players to be here, to be in this moment.”

The Meralco Bolts look to build on their Game 1 win against Ginebra on Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.