ANTIPOLO CITY - Purefoods Star forward James Yap said Wednesday’s game against Manny Pacquiao-led KIA Motors was one of the toughest the Hotshots have played in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Yap said it wasn't easy to play against a team that draws so much energy and inspiration from Pacquiao, who just three days back retained his world welterweight title via a unanimous decision over American Chris Algieri.
“Ito yung pinaka-mahirap na game sa conference namin dahil lahat ng players nila (Sorento) excited maglaro, tapos kalaban kami, eh nag-grand slam kami so nacha-challenge sila,” Yap said shortly after the Hotshots escaped with an 88-77 win over the Sorento at the Ynares Center.
Yap, who had a brief chat with Pacquiao at mid-court after the game, said he would have wanted to see the world’s only eight-division boxing champion play against the Hotshots. But skipping the match was the wise thing to do coming off a 12-round boxing bout, he added.
“Siguro, kung ako tatanungin mo, di ko ie-expect na maglalaro siya (Pacquiao). Siyempre, pagod siya sa biyahe at sa fight,” the Hotshots star forward said.
“Mahirap din pag pagod, baka ma-injure, so I’m sure next game nila lalaro na siya.”
Yap added that there’s no doubt Pacquiao’s mere presence on the bench was one of the biggest reasons why the Sorento played with so much energy against them.
“Talagang nakalusot lang kami sa kanila, pero kumbaga, in-expect na namin 'yun (strong game from KIA). Of course, nili-lift up niya ang teammates niya, so kailangan talaga handa kami. Pero buti na lang nag-step up kami lahat,” the two-time league MVP said.