AT 36 years of age, James Yap knows that he is slowly approaching the twilight of his playing career.
So never in a million years that he thought he would still get a national team call-up at this point.
"Di ko naman ine-expect na makakabalik ako sa national team," he said during the Spin.ph LIVE session where teammate Ed Daquioag was also a guest.
Yap's invite truly came as a surprise given the tumultuous status of the national team program following the now-infamous brawl back in July.
Rain or Shine stepping up to the plate was admirable, but there's no denying that two-time PBA MVP also deserved the nod given how he has held himself throughout the season.
And with that, he's just grateful for the chance -- nine years removed from the last time he wore the national tri-colors.
"Blessed lang. Thankful sa tiwala ni coach Yeng (Guiao) na pinili niya ako sa dami ng mga players na naglalaro. Thanks to God na nabigyan ng chance. Thanks sa Rain or Shine at sa lahat na ng sumuporta," he said.
Yap has put behind his forgettable first year with the Elasto Painters and had a resurgence of sorts this year.
He was solid in the Philippine Cup, netting 10.4 points on 30-percent shooting from downtown, on top of 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist, while also kicking those numbers up a notch in the Commissioner's Cup with his 10.6 points on a scorching 42-percent clip from beyond the arc, to go with his 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
But the Negrense shooter made it clear that there's no secret to his play other than hard work.
"Hard work lang naman ang kailangan sa basketball eh. Naiintindihan mo yung lapses sa team at alam mo kung paano maitatama yun," he said.
Unfortunately, those national team stints also presented a distraction to the Elasto Painters as they were unable to sustain their run in the season-ending Governors' Cup as they failed to advance to the playoffs.
Yap, though, believes that Rain or Shine can put these struggles behind as it looks forward to a fresh start next season.
"This conference lang naman yung problema eh. Yun ang kailangan namin i-work hard," he said.
As for his personal performance, the former UE Red Warrior said that he'll just try to keep himself in tip-top shape to continue his stellar play for the Elasto Painters.
"Bumabata na naman tayo," he said with a chuckle. "Alaga lang sa katawan at pa-kundisyon lang. Yun naman ang importante pag tumatanda ka na eh. Ready lang."