SAN Mig star James Yap was looking for another endgame magic to serve as a fitting birthday present.
Instead, it was another birthday celebrant who stole the show.
The two-time league MVP looked poised to reprise his Game Seven heroics against Barangay Ginebra on Friday night until Rain or Shine's Paul Lee hit the marginal basket off an inbound with nine-tenths of a second left to steal a 83-80 win for the Painters in the opener of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
“Ganun talaga ang basketball. Hangga’t di pa nauubos ang oras, may chance pa talaga manalo ang kabila,” said the San Mig star, who shares a lot of things in common with Lee - both being former University of the East King Warriors while celebrating birthdays just a day apart.
Yap, who turned 32 on Saturday, once again lived up to his 'Big Game' name in the series opener, hitting back-to-back baskets to give San Mig the lead, 80-78, with 32 seconds left.
“Sayang, di nagtuloy-tuloy, pang birthday ko na sana yun,” said Yap.
He was also the No. 1 option in a play ran by San Mig coach Tim Cone in another late play after Jervy Cruz hit a basket to pull Rain or Shine abreast at 80-all, but teammate Mark Barroca chose to take matters into his own hands and go for a drive.
Still, Yap said he had no qualms seeing Barroca take the crucial shot for San Mig.
“Actually meron (last play intended for him), pero tingin ko kaya niya (Barroca). Eh may tao din (a defender on him). Saka alam natin si Mark Barroca, may napatunayan na sa game iyan,” said the many-time All-Star.
“Okay lang yun. good decision din yun.”
San Mig and Yap will try to bounce back to tie the series on Sunday when Game Two is played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.