JAMES Yap had his best game with Rain or Shine on Friday in a 107-93 rout of Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup. He hopes it would be a prelude to something big in the Elasto Painters’ next outing.
The two-time league MVP was the top scorer in the team’s third win in four matches with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting in what may well be a warm-up for his first meeting with former ballclub Star Hotshots a week from now.
“Paghahandaan ko yung game,” said Yap of the December 18 showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum that marks the first time he will be going up against the Hotshots since his celebrated off-season, one-on-one trade for guard Paul Lee.
“Alam naman natin na diyan ako nanggaling, kumbaga 12 years. Ang dami nating nabigay na championship diyan, nakapito ako diyan. So ito yung game na tinitingnan ng mga tao. So dapat ready ka.”
And how ready is he?
Aside for the five rebounds he had, the 34-year-old Yap also registered his most number of playing minutes at 25 with the Elasto Painters opposite the Elite, less than three weeks since undergoing arthroscopic procedure on his knee.
Coach Caloy Garcia admitted giving Yap extended playing minutes to get him ready for the Star game.
“I want him to be ready for the next game, kasi next game niya will be Star,” Garcia said. “So we wanted him to play longer today to get his rhythm back with the different combination inside.”
Yap didn’t mince any word how important the game will be for him.
“Basta ready kami lahat sa Rain or Shine, kasi alam naman ng lahat ng players, lahat ng coaches kung gaano ka big deal sa akin ito,” the 13-year veteran stressed.
Although pride will definitely be at stake, Yap said he’s not about to put pressure on himself ahead of his first meeting against the Hotshots.
In the end, everything still boils down to basketball.
“At the end of the day, all you have to do is play your game,” he said. “Kung masama ang game natin, wala tayong magagawa. Kung maganda, e di thank you.”