SEVILLE, SPAIN - PBA superstar James Yap arrived late for the Gilas Pilipinas-Croatia game after a quick city tour arranged by a former college teammate didn't turn out to be as quick as anticipated.
But as soon as he settled in his seat inside the Centro Deportivo de San Pablo in this Spanish city, the San Mig Super Coffee gunner found himself so involved in the action that he wrestled with emotions that Yap said he rarely felt when playing.
"Buti 'pag ikaw ang naglalaro, hindi ka ninenerbiyos ng ganito. Kanina ninerbiyos ako ng todo," said Yap, a two-time MVP in the pro league, said after Gilas' 78-81 overtime loss.
The 32-year-old pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental was supposed to join TV5's broadcast team to do brief commentary work during the game but never got to do so because he came in late.
But by the time the game reached its climax, Yap sas so pumped up he had climbed down from the upper seats to cheer the players on, including good friend and teammate Marc Pingris, from behind the Gilas bench.
"Naka-upo kami sa medyo taas," he said. "Pero nung dikdikan na, nasa likod na kami ng bench."
Yap played for the national team just twice in his career - first during his days at University of the East when he joined the Aric del Rosario-coached team in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, and in 2009 when he played for Yeng Guiao in the Fiba-Asia Championship in Tianjin, China.
The San Mig star never became part of this version of the national team, partly because of injuries he endured during the formation of the lineup, and also because of the lines drawn between rival companies in the PBA.
But on this afternoon, Yap felt he was very much a part of one team - the Philippines.
"Tumayo talaga ang balahibo ko," he said. "Nakaka-proud talaga."