JAMES Yap had to hear it straight from the horse's mouth.
Prior to signing a fresh three-year contract with Rain or Shine that will probably be his last in the PBA, the two-time PBA MVP had to clear the air with no less than the team owners on a rumored plan to trade him.
The 36-year-old Yap personally asked co-team owner Raymund Yu about a rumor that he was supposedly being dealt to a San Miguel-owned team.
“Boss, are you trading me?” Yu recalled Yap asking him in the presence of team governor and manager Atty. Mamerto Mondragon when he visited the Welcoat office in Pasig City last week.
Yu said he was taken aback, saying he was completely unaware that such trade talk was going around.
“Hindi naman kasi ako active sa social media so I was not really aware of it,” said the Rain or Shine executive. “Yun pala may mga kumakalat nang ganun."
Just days before the rookie draft last December, rumors swirled that Yap was being traded to another team. While the franchise of his destination was not mentioned, there were obvious hints he was going to return to Magnolia.
But Yu was quick to dismiss such trade transaction, saying nobody has even personally approached him or co-owner Terry Que.
“Kung meron mang trade na mangyayari, di ba dapat kami ni Terry ang makakaalam? As I’ve said, hindi ko nga alam na may mga ganung kuwento pala.”
Yu later admitted he has a fairly good idea of how the rumors started.
“I don’t know but tingin ko lang nagsimula yan when Terrence (Romeo) was traded to San Miguel,” he said, adding around that time, Yap was still haggling for a new contract with the Elasto Painters.
According to Yu, Rain or Shine initially offered Yap a two-year deal, but the veteran wingman, acquired by the franchise in a blockbuster one-on-one trade with Paul Lee two years ago, negotiated for a three-year contract.
“He asked that he be given a three-year contract kasi baka last contract na daw niya,” said Yu, who didn’t hesitate gving in to the wishes of Yap.
“Matagal na rin naman siya sa amin. Amateur pa lang nasa Welcoat na siya,” he said of the Escalante, Negros Occidental native who suited up for the franchise for three years in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL) before turning pro in 2004.
Yu also said it would be a proud moment for the franchise should Yap decide to retire as an Elasto Painter.
“Kahit na hindi naman talaga siya sa amin nagsimula sa PBA, maganda pa rin kung sa amin siya magre-retire,” he said.