1. JIMMY ALAPAG
The story: Before becoming the PBA’s Mighty Mouse, Alapag was a California State University product who was virtually unknown in our shores. It was American coach Ron Jacobs—who honed the games of Pinoy basketball greats Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic, and Hector Calma—who discovered and included Alapag in the training pool for the national hoops team for the 2002 Asian Games.
But Jacobs suffered a stroke while in the middle of preparations. So the then 23-year-old Alapag didn't make the team. But there was no doubting how talented the diminutive guard was and a stint in the PBA was beckoning.
The hitch: It was early 2002, the next PBA draft was still almost a year away, and Alapag literally didn't have anything to tide him over in the interim. He crashed at friends’ houses and accepted the help of generous individuals just to survive living here. The result was well-worth it: a decade-long PBA career that includes nine All-Star appearances, three PBA Mythical Five selections, a PBA MVP award, a scintillating highlight reel that includes:
a. booming treys
b. unexpected dunks
and consideration as one of the best point guards in Asia. This also happened.
2. SUGAR RAY LEONARD
When: September 16, 1981
The story: “You’re blowing it, son,” said the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee to the young Sugar Ray Leonard before the 13th round of Leonard’s first fight with Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns. Leonard and Hearns both held championship belts at the welterweight division and were looking to unify their titles and determine the 147lbs-division’s—and all of boxing’s—best fighter.
Both fighters masterfully imposed their advantages at the start of the fight with Leonard using his quickness to get to the taller Hearns, while Hearns used his longer reach to pepper Leonard with booming right-hand punches to the head. Going into the 13th round, it appeared that Hearns was winning the fight convincingly. Leonard’s left eye was all but shut and he had also considerably slowed down. But with those four words, Sugar Ray woke up from his funk and for the next two rounds pounded on a barely-surviving Hearns. An overhand right followed by a barrage of punches finally ended the fight for Hearns.