IF there’s someone who is not surprised that James Yap made it big in the PBA, it would have to be Ronald Tubid.
Tubid said he was guarding Yap ever since high school, and even during that time, he already knew that Yap was destined to become a star in the PBA.
“Si James, nakalaban ko sa Iloilo. Fourth year ako, si James second year,” Tubid bared in the CPT Crossover Podcast. “Nung time na ‘yun, I was guarding James all the time. High school pa lang si James, pang-PBA na ang laro.”
“Tagal naming magkasama sa Iloilo. One year kaming nagbabantayan sa Iloilo,” said Tubid.
Tubid later became teammates of Yap in 1998 through an Iloilo selection squad and it only reaffirmed his belief that Yap will soon become a star.
“Hindi naman ako magaling, role player lang ako. Depensa lang tapos offense. Si James talaga ‘yung go-to guy,” said Tubid.
New of Yap’s talent soon reached Manila and he was, in fact, eyed by La Salle when he was about to enter college. At this time, Tubid was already with University of the East in the UAAP, with the Red Warriors having a decent team.
So when he heard that Yap was playing for a junior team owned by UE patron the late Bong Tan, Tubid was naturally excited about the upgrade the Red Warriors were about to get with Yap's arrival.
“Nalaman ko na nire-recruit siya ng La Salle. Then, I found out na naglaro siya sa Jr. PBL with Absolute Water which is kay boss Bong. Sabi ko, sa amin mapupunta ‘yun. May katuwang ako. Tutulungan ko na lang siya,” said Tubid.
Tubid said that there was even a time that he and Yap would be joining the practices of the Tanduay PBA team.
“There was a time na we practiced with Tanduay kasi si Boss Bong, siya ‘yung (owner) sa Tanduay. Sumasama kami. Nung time na ‘yun si James, ‘yung body, ‘yung built niya, ever since high school, pang-PBA caliber na talaga si James,” said Tubid.
Tubid was in his final year at UE when Yap captured the UAAP MVP, which no longer surprised him. Yap was drafted by Purefoods in 2004 and won the PBA MVP award twice over the course of his career.
Tubid said it was a joy to see Yap from a high school prospect to one of the biggest stars in PBA history.
“Agile, tall, may shooting, lahat eh. Hindi ako nagtaka na si James, naging big star sa PBA,” Tubid said.