JAMES Yap finally addressed long-standing rumors that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with coach Tim Cone when the multi-titled mentor first came on board at San Mig Coffee three years ago.
“Hindi totoo yan,” Yap said in a straightforward manner shortly after the Mixers completed a historic grand slam on Wednesday night when they beat Rain or Shine, 92-89, in the deciding game of the PBA Governors Cup finals at the overflowing Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Reports have swirled since 2011 about Yap and other members of the team opposing the arrival of Cone in 2011 to bring his patented triangle offense from Alaska to San Mig.
The core of the team, many believed, will not thrive under Cone’s system, much more the 32-year-old Yap, who’s become so accustomed to the free-flowing offense ran by previous San Mig coaches Ryan Gregorio and George Gallent.
But Yap said he has so much respect for Cone’s knowledge of the game and that he embraced whatever system the American mentor brought to the team.
“Ako ang isang player na nirerespeto ko talaga ang lahat ng coaches. Kung sino man ang dumating sa team, nire-respeto ko ang sistema nila,” said Yap, who finished with 29 points while going 9-of-12 from the field, and eight rebounds in the final game of the season.
Initially, the two-time league MVP said he struggled adapting to Cone’s system. But Yap said not once did he complain about it.
“Nag-adjust ako, struggle nandun 'yun,” he said. “Pero ako ang isang player na sinusunod ko lang ang gusto nila. Wala silang narinig sa akin. Hinayaan ko lang kung ano ang diskarte niya. Basta ako ready lang kung ano ang gusto niya.”
But once he settled down, there was no turning back for Yap.
In three years playing for Cone, Yap won a total of five championships, including the first grand slam in the league over the last 18 years.
In winning his latest title under Cone, Yap averaged 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists and was adjudged as the PBA Press Corps-Holcim Finals MVP for the second straight conference.
In the end, the San Mig Coffee star had nothing but praise for his coach.
“Ang masasabi ko lang magaling na coach talaga si coach Tim,” said the San Mig star.