Jimmy Alapag becomes emotional at his retirement ceremony during Sunday's PBA All-Star Game in Palawan. Photo by Nuki Sabio, PBA Images
MANILA, Philippines – The Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters afforded retired team captain Jimmy Alapag one of the highest honors that can be given to a player after they retired the No. 3 jersey of the man they called the "Mighty Mouse."
Alapag's No. 3 jersey was retired during the halftime ceremony of the 2015 PBA All-Star Game in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
The emotional ceremony was attended by Alapag's family, including his brother and sister who flew from the United States to watch the former TNT captain receive the honor.
"It has always been my dream, bata pa lang ako, to be here with all these incredible people in this incredible league," said Alapag. "I feel so very blessed these past 12 years to have been a part of the PBA's rich history."
Alapag, who got choked up several times while speaking to the Puerto Princesa crowd, expressed his gratitude to Talk 'N Text management for taking a chance on him and taking him with the 10th pick of the 2003 PBA Rookie Draft.
He also thanked his teammates, including good friend Asi Taulava, saying they made his career and his life "that much more of a blessing."
To his wife, LJ Moreno, and kids, he said: "You guys are everything to me, I look forward to this next chapter of my life and trying to be the best father and the best husband that I can be to you guys."
He also thanked the PBA fans in Palawan and in the Philippines, saying: "It has been my absolute honor and pleasure to be in front of you these last 12 years. I can't thank you enough. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love, the support, and the prayers, for Talk 'N Text and for Gilas."
"I'm proud of Philippine basketball, I'm proud of the PBA, and I know there's only bigger and brighter things to have with the next generation of guys who will be competing and representing us in the years to come," he added.
Alapag was honored by his longtime coach, Chot Reyes, with whom he won four PBA titles as well as the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
"It's been a hell of a ride, my friend," Reyes told Alapag. "Thank you for making my job easier. Thank you for being the perfect player and like I've told you so many times, you've had so many achievements, but the best years of your life are still yet to come."
Taulava was also visibly emotional during the ceremony, and indeed the current NLEX forward has been relishing the chance to play one last time with Alapag during the All-Star Game.
"Thank you for being such a good friend, being a great little big brother to me throughout our whole career. You've been there for me not just once but so many times when I was down," Taulava said.
"You put Philippine basketball back on the map," Taulava told Alapag. "I wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life, and I know you're gonna do a good job with Talk 'N Text management."
Moreno, for her part, said that she "married a legend," and expressed her pride in marrying not only a great basketball player but also a great man.
Alapag won six championships in his career and was the PBA's Most Valuable Player in 2011. He was also the 2003 PBA Rookie of the Year.
He now serves as the team manager of the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters.