AS James Yap looked back at San Mig Super Coffee’s grand slam season, he couldn't held but be thankful to the team's real MVPs.
Make that Most Valuable Physical therapists.
The San Mig star paid tribute to the medical staff made up of team doctor Raffy Sanchez and physical therapists Nick Ocampo and Arcee Cua for keeping the players in the best shape possible while going through one finals appearance after another in a long, historic season.
Yap, a two-time MVP in 10 seasons in the pro league, said it was surprising that he missed just six of the 135 games San Mig played over the past two seasons while battling through back spasms, flu and an assortment of aches and pains.
“Ang mga PT namin, sila ang tunay na MVPs ng team kasi kung wala sila, hindi rin kami makakalaro,” Yap told Spin.ph on Tuesday.
That he was able to win a first career grand slam and two more Finals MVP awards despite the health issues, Yap said, is a testament to the hard work done by PTs like Cua, who he said sometimes had to sleep over at his home just to attend to his medical needs.
“Ang ginagawa ng mga PT namin, gaya ni Arcee, kapag may sakit or injury kami, natutulog na lang siya sa bahay,” recalled the 32-year-old San Mig star.
“So 'nung may back spasms ako, sinisigurado niya na naka-hot compress ang likod ko saka stretching talaga, tapos ultra sound para nga daw ma-relax yung likod,” he added.
Cua said up to this time, he couldn’t believe they were able to pull off the challenging task of keeping the San Mig core relatively healthy during a tough PBA schedule where it was not only Yap but also other stars like Marc Pingris, PJ Simon and Marqus Blakely who battled injuries.
The 26-year-old Cua said they had their hands full when Yap, and late in the season, Simon, battled through back spasms.
At some point in the season, medical staff also had to attend to Allein Maliksi, who suffered an ACL tear on his knee late last year, as well as James Mays (Commissioner’s Cup) and Blakely (Governors Cup) who were not in the best of shape during their tour of duties with the team.
“Kahit ako hindi makapaniwala na naalagaan namin sila (Yap and Co.),” Cua told Spin.ph. “We encountered some major and minor injuries din naman. Like yung back spasms ni James, yung ACL tear ni Allein, tapos Si Marqus nung dumating siya dito hindi talaga siya 100 percent.”
Cua said Blakely arrived with only one healthy leg, as the former Vermon standout was still recovering from leg surgery a few months before the start of the Governors Cup.
“Binigyan namin siya (Blakely) ng Hop Test to compare yung good leg and operated leg niya. Sobrang layo ng difference. Eh ang sabi nga ni Coach Tim (Cone), ‘I'd rather have an 85-90 percent Marqus than 100 percent somebody.’ So, ayun, pressure sa amin,” related the alumnus of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Cua said the medical team had to work together to take care of all the players.
“Kaya before the season and kahit nung nag-umpisa na, tuloy pa rin ang rehab, strengthening and conditioning niyan (Blakely) para maabot lang namin yung ’85 to 90 percent na Marqus. So ayun, mabuti nalang naging okay siya,” he said.
Now that the Mixers have completed their grand slam mission, the medical staff is savoring the long offseason.
“Sarap lang maging part ng history eh. Saka ang sarap ng grand slam," Cua said. "(Pero) mas masarap magpahinga."