HIS superstar player may be struggling with a painful shooting arm all-conference long, yet Tim Cone hardly ever doubted James Yap delivering for San Mig Coffee especially when the game is on the line.
In his own very words, Cone considers Yap the Mixers’ “best player in terms of playing through injuries.”
“He’s one of our best guys, if not the best,” said the outspoken American coach after Yap, still nursing a recurring elbow injury on his right shooting arm, again came through in the clutch by draining the go-ahead three-pointer in San Mig’s stirring 79-76 win in Game Five of its semifinals series against top seed Barangay Ginebra on Saturday night before an animated crowd of 20,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
They Said It!
“(James) always finds a way. He does rehab, and he’s very conscientious about that. He’ll play to the moment that he thought he cannot. That’s just not his personality. He’ll get himself ready." San Mig coach Tim Cone
Added Cone: “He definitely does not have that superstar mentality, and says 'Oh, I’m not gonna practice. He’s not like that at all. He comes every practice and he practices it.”
Yap, the soft-spoken two-time league Most Valuable Player, regularly plays with a protective arm band to shield an injury that has bothered him for the most part of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
Until hitting the cold-blooded three-pointer in the final 13 seconds of the tightly-fought encounter, Yap was struggling from the field by making just two of his 14 shots.
He actually took responsibility for the Mixers’ 85-82 loss in Game Four when he flubbed a possible game-tying basket at the buzzer.
But to all this, Cone was hardly bothered.
Although admitting the injury remains a concern for him and the team, the San Mig coach is very much confident about what his 32-year-old gunner can do when inside the court.
“You know the way James shoots, he flips the ball, he flips the elbow, so there’s certainly pain going on there,” he said.
“But he (James) always finds a way. He does rehab, and he’s very conscientious about that. He’ll play to the moment that he thought he cannot. That’s just not his personality. He’ll get himself ready.”
Exactly what James will be when Game Six of the series is played Monday when the Mixers go for the clincher and a berth in the All-Filipino Finals.