STAR coach Jason Webb has high hopes that James Yap can pick up from where he left off in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as the Hotshots gear up for a championship run in the Governors’ Cup next month.
Yap was in vintage form in the midseason tournament, even playing his best-scoring game last March 27 against San Miguel Beer where he scored 15 points in the first quarter alone, before suffering a conference-ending right calf strain in the third quarter.
But the Hotshots superstar has since had one month and a half of rest, therapy, and strengthening to get back to form.
“We’re hoping that he’s closer to that shape again,” Webb told SPIN.ph after practice on Tuesday. “But James is James. You’ll know that he’ll find his rhythm at some point.”
Yap feels he’s back to his old self, having been able to attend all practice sessions since the Hotshots returned to camp last week.
“Wala ng sakit,” the 34-year-old cager said. “Hindi namin minadali dahil into yung type ng injury na akala mo okay na pero yun pala, hindi pa fully recovered, so nung na-out kami, talagang pinahinga ko then work out.”
Yap, who missed the Hotshots’ last four games, including two in the quarterfinals against the Beermen, did admit that he feared he might’ve suffered a career-threatening injury. But he's confident his thorough approach to recovery erased all his concerns about his calf.
“Kinabahan lang ako dahil sabi sa akin na pabalik-balik na itong injury na ‘to,” he admitted. “Traydor daw ‘tong injury na ‘to, so talagang naka-focus ako sa injury ko, pinalakas ko at pag may chance na mag-pahinga, pahinga din.”
“Wala na (hindi na kailangan alalayan),” he added.
Meanwhile, Webb insisted that he would rather bank on Yap and the rest of their Filipino stars to support American import Marqus Blakely than tap an Asian reinforcement.
“Asian import namin si James Yap, PJ Simon,” he said with a chuckle. “Asian imports are good, but I’m a believer of our Filipino talent and I believe our locals, they can match up with any of the Asian guys.”