The Kings Continue to Expand Their International Reach

The Sacramento Kings promoted Jimmy Alapag from Stockton to become the NBA team’s player development coach, essentially replacing Lindsey Harding, who is now the head coach of the G League club.

Alapag is considered one of the very best players in the history of Filipino basketball after a thirteen-year playing career that was followed up by four years of assistant coaching in the PBL.

He got a job with the Kings organization by contacting then-general manager Vlade Divac. Both of them were on the FIBA Players Commission and Alapag simply asked if there was any work opportunities. Luckily for him, Divac got him on board the Summer League staff in 2019.

After being on the coaching staff again for the 2021 Summer League championship team, he was given a full-time assistant coaching job in Stockton, and he would have gotten it earlier had the G League team not been shelved for a season.

From his four-year college career at Cal State San Bernadino to his years in the PBL, the 5’9″ Alapag gained a breadth of experience that certainly explains the primary reason he’s getting this job. He’ll offer plenty on the sideline.

At the same time, though, it’s hard to ignore that Alapag represents yet another door to international revenue.

On a league-wide basis, one of Vivek Ranadive’s noteworthy influences was the part he played in expanding the NBA’s outreach to his native country of India, which represents a huge source of international revenue and where basketball is the fastest growing sport.

It’s not as though Ranadive’s organization has swayed the uptick in international engagement, but he’s ridden that wave quite well.

Sacramento obviously doesn’t have a Nikola Jokic to help the league see a 66% year-on-year increase in Serbian viewership on League Pass, but think about the diversity of origins among so many involved in the organization.

The center of it all in so many ways, Domantas Sabonis, is not only a Lithuanian star, but he’s the son of perhaps the nation’s most legendary figure; and as a dash of sprinkles on top, it’s important to remember Deividas Dulkys, who was a former member of the Lithuanian National Team, is also a player development coach.

The Kings just signed the EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, who is Bulgarian and has a strong following in Greece. In fact, Chris Duarte, the other bigger acquisition, is from the Dominican Republic. Alex Len is Ukrainian and the team will be one season removed from having one of Australia’s best players in Matthew Dellavedova.

In the same light and for what it’s worth, restricted free agent Neemias Queta was the first Portuguese player to compete in an NBA game.

Looking at the coaching staff, obviously Mike Brown coached the Nigerian National Team a few summers ago with Jordi Fernandez and Luke Loucks on the staff. Fernandez hails from Spain and will surely be the first Spanish head coach in the NBA one day. The more offensive-minded assistant, Jay Triano, is one of the most prominent figures when it comes to Canadian basketball, both as a player and a coach. And one can’t forget the Brazilian Blur, Leandro Barbosa, whose home nation is one of the largest markets for the NBA outside North America. 

Furthermore, coach Brown just participated in a Basketball Without Borders camp in South Africa.

Also, one can’t forget the connections Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic still have with organization, especially since they were trailblazers for NBA players from Yugoslavia. 

It’s clear all those names have varying degree’s of pull with their respective international markets, and none are as notable on their own as a guy like Jokic, but they all serve in expanding the reach of the Sacramento Kings in a time where the league is growing across the globe.

Seemingly everywhere one looks, the organization’s doing something that seems tied to international progress, which isn’t a bad thing considering the reality that the league it is a part of is, first and foremost, a business at its core.

For example, upon releasing the preseason schedule last week, it was announced the Kings would play their first one against the Raptors up in Vancouver, British Columbia as part of the NBA’s Canadian Series.

And now there’s Jimmy Alapag, who isn’t just some former basketball player that succeeded in the Philippines. He’s a celebrity there. Whatever one thinks of it, he and his family—which is co-headed by his wife, who’s an actress—have a YouTube channel, and they all recently linked up with an entertainment company for representation in both the Philippines and the United States.

The Philippines is another one of the rapidly growing markets for NBA basketball. Forbes reported last year that the country “is the fourth-biggest market outside the U.S. in NBA League Pass subscriptions, which in the Philippines have increased +26% season-over-season.” And they correctly make sure to note the role guys like Jordan Clarkson, Jalen Green, and Erik Spoelstra have had in the growth there, which has opened doors for each guy’s respective organization to expand their reach into the Asia-Pacific nation.

Jimmy Alapag will surely provide plenty as an assistant coach, but he’s yet another conduit for the Kings’ brand expansion, which appears to be blossoming.

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Kings Talk: Episode 67

On this episode of Kings Talk presented by Cap City Crown, Tony and John discuss who has the best shot at winning the third backup center role, Mike Brown’s first real interview of the offseason, […]

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1 month ago

Apalag was a legend over there, and pretty good at coaching too. At least they’re not strictly making the move for PR and to increase fan support. Good article Tony, enjoyed the read man!