At 40, Roger Yap feels reinvigorated ahead of comeback with Manila Stars in MPBL
At 40, Roger Yap is set to be one of the leaders of the Manila Stars in the MPBL. Christian Jacinto

THREE-time PBA champion Roger Yap is set to make his return to the national stage when he suits up for the Manila Stars in the upcoming Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) season.

Yap last played in the PBA for Barako Bull in 2013 and although he's been out of the limelight for the longest time, Yap said he has kept busy playing and coaching in Cebu bush leagues.

"Okay pa rin, buhay na buhay pa. Actually naglalaro parin ako sa Cebu at di naman ako nagpabaya sa basketball. At the same time, nagco-coach ako," said Yap.

"May mga commercial (leagues) din dun sa Cebu, may mga ex-pro, may mga import, yun yung mga kalaban namin dun," he added.

The 40-year-old explained why he didn't suit up for his hometown squad Cebu Ninos, which isa also one of the expansion sides in a regional league that expanded to 26 teams in its second season.

"Late na kasi sila nagbuo ng team e. Una kasi tumawag dito sa Manila e," Yap explained.

"Wala pa sila nung tumawag ang Manila Stars kaya ginrab ko na yung chance dito kasi sayang nga naman, mapahinga lang din. Atleast dito may ensayo at makukundisyon ka," he added.

Yap admitted he's no longer the fiery guard that became one of the core players of Purefoods, and in fact offered to slide into an assistant role to head coach Philip Cezar.

But he was eventually convinced to play by team bosses led by team owner Roman Ang.

"Masaya pa din ako at nakabalik ako at nakalaro. Di na rin katulad ng dati kaya sabi ko nga pwede mag-assistant na lang ako kay coach Philip. Pero ayaw nila e," said Yap.

"Sa tingin ko kaya ko pa naman."

What he promised to bring to the table is his leadership and experience from 12 years of playing basketball at the highest level.

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"Mga bata kasama ko, kailangan i-guide ko sila. Ako yata pinakabeterano dito. Rookie pa mga kasama ko kaya kailangan di mapabayaan to," Yap said.

"Mahirap din baka pagdating sa laro magkawatak-watak kami kaya kailangan 'yung leadership andun. Sinasabihan ko yung mga ex-pro na tulungan yung mga bata."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11