SAN Mig Coffee superstar James Yap hopes the PBA Governors Cup would signal a new beginning for his career after being slowed down the past summer by a nagging back injury.
Yap has spent the past month practicing with the team and rehabilitating his problematic back, and the 6-foot-1 shooting guard said he is eager to play once again as the Mixers face last year’s Finals tormentor Rain or Shine Elasto Painters right on opening day.
The Governors Cup unreels on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Para sa akin, kailangan lang naman from the start banat na agad dahil every game counts. Maiksi lang kasi ang conference,” Yap told Spin.ph before joining the team’s practice on Tuesday.
“Ang approach ko naman ngayon, every game, para siyang semifinals. Wala nang time para mag-relax. Kasi pag natalo ka dito (elimination round), wala ka nang chance makabawi, puwera na lang kung magkita uli kayo sa semis or quarterfinals,” he added.
The pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental said he’s ready to bang bodies with Rain or Shine’s chief defensive stopper Jireh Ibanes, whom he has battled in several highly physical encounters in the past.
Yap said his back is feeling really good and hasn’t bothered him since joining the team’s practice in early July. He credits the series of therapy sessions he had with an Italian Olympic therapist as one of the reasons why his back is back to normal.
“Malaking tulong talaga yung therapy ko dun (sa Italy). Ngayon, nakakapag-plyometrics na ako,” he said. “Last conference kasi, iba. Gusto ng utak ko maglaro, pero yung katawan ko naman ang ayaw.”
The 31-year-old San Mig stalwart is coming off career-low averages of 12 points and 3.2 rebounds in the Commissioner’s Cup, which saw the Mixers yield their crown to eventual champion Alaska Aces.
Yap shot an abysmal 18.9 percent from the field during the best-of-five semifinal series against the Aces as his injured back limited his mobility.
He later decided to sit out Game Four of the series, which San Mig lost, 78-83, to bow out of the title race.