STAR was coming off another frustrating loss to Alaska that put a sorry end to the Hotshots' season, but you can't sense that from the scene unfolding at the back exit of the Big Dome on Sunday night.
The sweep Star suffered at the hands of the Aces in their PBA Governors Cup semifinal playoff or the heavy rains outside hardly dampened the enthusiasm of fans who came to see their idols, primarily James Yap and Marc Pingris.
Spin.ph chanced upon the scene as Yap mingled with the fans outside, spending a few more minutes with them before riding his controversial KIA K9 luxury sedan with his friends and family members.
Yap said it was his way of thanking the fans for sticking with the team through thick and thin.
“Hindi tayo dapat magdamot ng oras sa kanila. Sila ang bumubuhay sa liga natin at utang na loob natin sa kanila (fans) ang lahat ng tagumpay na tinatamasa natin,” said Yap, who quietly made his way out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum to elude mediamen waiting outside the Hotshots’ dugout.
“Natutuwa nga ako kasi kahit ganito na binalot kami ng talo, nandyan pa rin sila para hindi lang kami i-cheer kungdi i-cheer up pa,” added the soft-spoken pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental.
True to his word, Yap did not only grant photo-op and autograph requests from fans, he was also the one volunteering to have a picture with them, even exchanging some short chit-chats with Star diehards.
“Dapat nga matuwa kami kasi kahit hindi kami sinuwerte ngayong season, hindi sila nawawala sa amin. Para sa akin, napakahalagang bagay na nun,” he said.
Yap also apologized for another failed campaign by the Hotshots, vowing to bounce back next season.
“Babawi na lang kami next time. Sa mga fans ng Hotshots, pasensya na po kayo, hindi namin naibigay ang gusto ninyo. Basta, babawi kami,” he added.
Ellord Veronio, a rabid Hotshots fans, praised Yap for being very accommodating to them.
“Mabait si James, kahit talo approachable,” said Veronio.
“Napakabait po ni James. Kahit sa Ronac (practice gym of Hotshots), hindi po siya nagsasawa magbigay ng oras sa amin. Simpleng simple po siya, sobrang down to earth,” said another fan, Justin Carl Perez.
One guard stationed at the South Gate parking of the Big Dome bared that it has been a standard operating procedure for them to provide extra security to Yap and teammate Pingris.
“Sila pong dalawa talaga ang dinudumog ng tao. Hindi nga po kami magkandamayaw sa pagpigil. Kaso wala kaming magagawa kasi fans yan eh,” said the guard.
“Sila James po at Marc talaga ang laging dinudumog ng fans. Kada laro po yan,” he added.
View video of Big Dome scene: