Last Hurrah: Alapag wills Gilas to the Worlds
By Alder Almo Updated Sunday August 11, 2013 - 4:44am

Jimmy Alapag will be remembered to be the man, who struck the dagger into the hearts of the Koreans, who have long tormented the Filipinos in the past, him included. Photo courtesy of FIBA Asia

MANILA, Philippines - On his final tour of duty with the team, Jimmy Alapag is writing the kind of farewell story that will be retold to the grandchildren of his grandchildren.

For the 35-year old national team skipper, third time is a charm.

After two failed attempts in the past to help the Philippine national team return to the world basketball stage, Alapag has finally got the job done. (read related story: It's now or never for Alapag vs Korea)

He'll be remembered to be the man, who struck the dagger into the hearts of the Koreans, who have long tormented the Filipinos in the past, him included.

With the Koreans threatening anew to break their hearts, Alapag seized the moment to return the favor.

After Yang Donggeun rolled in his free throws to cut Gilas' lead down to two, 81-79, Alapag answered with a booming three-pointer in the final 54 seconds that killed any hopes of another Korean comeback.  

He let out a loud scream as if saying "enough is enough".

A couple of minutes earlier, he hit another one that gave Gilas back the lead, 76-75.

"Words can't describe how we're feeling right now," Alapag said after punching a ticket to the FIBA World Cup in Spain next year with an 86-79 win over Korea that pushed Gilas Pilipinas to a finals showdown with two-time champion Iran Sunday night.  

The 5-foot-9 Alapag, who was hailed as Asia's best point guard by Lebanon's Fadi El Khatib during his first tour of duty with the national team, hit four triples - the last, perhaps, the biggest in his entire basketball career.

He wound up with his best game in the tournament finishing with 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

It was enough to help buck the absence of big man Marcus Douthit, who limped off the court in the second quarter with an aggravated calf injury.

"Unbelievable," Alapag lost for words in describing the epic victory. "This is for our country."

"We've been fighting and fighting for so many years to get back on top of Asian basketball," he added. "To the support of our country and everybody here, I think we took a huge, huge step forward."

It was huge indeed as the Filipinos advanced to the world basketball stage after 35 long years of absence.

"I will do my best and leave my heart and soul, as well as all the guys, on the court to get out for another win."

And Alapag's farewell story doesn't end here. It has only just begun. 

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ MOA Arena
5:45 PM - Semifinal Round
Iran vs Chinese Taipei
8:00 PM - Semifinal Round
Philippines vs Korea