JAMES Yap knows the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs is at a stage when he should be stepping up, and he's left frustrated that a painful back is holding him back.
The San Mig superstar said the back problem that had hounded him since late in the eliminations has gone worse since taking a Calvin Abueva elbow to the back in Game Two, and the pain is not only limiting his movement but, worse, is also affecting his shot.
“Walang balance kapag tumitira ako. Di ko magawa. Sa isip ko, malakas, pero sa katawan, parang di sumusunod. Malakas ang isip ko eh, 'Kaya ko ito, kaya ko ito,'” Yap said just before joining San Mig Coffee's afternoon practice at the Ronac Gym in San Juan on Friday.
At a time when he has become so used to being the man for San Mig, Yap is doing the exact opposite.
The two-time league MVP is hitting at an atrocious 18.9 percent clip in the first three games of the semifinal playoff against Alaska, making just seven of 37 shots. His average has plummeted to 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in the semis.
“First time nangyari ito sa akin sa semis in nine years. Pag ganito kasing semis na, dikdikan na ito eh. Eh di ko magawa. As in talagang once binitawan ko 'yung bola, kailangan may mangyari para makatulong ka sa team, ganun ako mag-isip kasi, ngayon di ko masyado magawa,” Yap said.
Actually, the San Mig forward said his back had seen some improvement after undergoing constant therapy, but he said the tightness has recurred after getting hit with an Abueva elbow in Game Two.
The pain has only become worse since.
“Actually, nabawasan na ito (back pain). Pero nung natamaan ng siko, bumalik yung tightness. The more na tumatakbo ako sa court, the more na naninigas, the more nagiging tight,” said Yap.
With do-or-die Game Four just a day away, Yap isn't even sure if San Mig coach Tim Cone will see it fit to keep him on the court for one of the most important games of the Mixers' season.
“I’ll talk to coach first," he said. "Magu-usap kami kung paano gagawin, kung ano ang adjustment.”