TIM Cone believes San Mig Coffee superstar James Yap needs to “reinvent” himself in some ways to keep up with his advancing age and stay ahead of fresh and younger players joining the PBA.
The Mixers coach noted Yap has to adjust his game now that he’s not that young anymore and the opposition somewhat has learned to devise ways on how to defend him.
Both factors could be the reason for Yap’s shooting struggle, dating back from the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup and extending to the early part of the Governors' Cup.
The two-time league MVP shot an aggregate 2-of-24 from the field as San Mig limped to an 0-2 start in the season-ending conference.
Still, Cone stressed Yap remains as the Mixers’ top gun despite his shooting woes.
“He’s (Yap) at that age where he can’t do the things he did at 25 and expect to get the same results at 31,” noted the multi-titled league mentor.
Cone said Yap’s body has obviously changed through the years due to the constant pounding he gets every game.
“Your game changes, your body changes, and younger players start playing and they (defenders) play with more energy,” he said.
“(His) reputation is there but everybody measures themselves on how to defend you. The challenges are much different when you’re 25 and when you’re 31. So he’s got to lift up the level of his game to meet the challenges.”
Yap was a dominant scoring force for the Mixers, whom he steered to a pair of Philippine Cup championships, the last one coming during the 2009-10 season when the Escalante, Negros Occidental native averaged 17.98 points, 3.50 rebounds, and 2.02 assists on his way to bagging his second MVP trophy.
Despite the rough start Yap had in the season-ending conference, Cone said he’s glad the rest of the Mixers have come together to support their embattled star during his shooting slump.
The San Mig mentor noted guys like Marc Pingris, who played his first game this conference last Sunday, along with guards Mark Barroca and Alex Mallari tried to feed the ball to Yap and help him regain his confidence.
The result was a breakthrough game for the former University of the East guard, who fired 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting to help San Mig Coffee score a resounding 118-99 win over an undermanned Talk ‘N Text squad.
But Cone believes the shooting slump is a good “wake-up call” for Yap.
“That last two games has been a great, great wake-up call for him. Sometimes, coaches and players, we need to be jolted a little bit. I mean, going for 2-of-24 (field goal shooting), no doubt, that’s a jolt for him (Yap),” he said.
“Now, he puts his nose to the ground and starts working on it (shooting). So his work ethic was phenomenal,” explained Cone, who piloted the Mixers to the championship of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup.