ANTIPOLO CITY – It happens to the best of them, even to a two-time MVP like James Yap.
The veteran gunner owned up to letting Rain or Shine down on Sunday when he missed three consecutive, pressure-packed free throws down the stretch in a 105-102 loss to TnT Katropa in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup before a jampacked crowd at the Ynares Sports Center.
Yap uncharacteristically botched three of the four free throws awarded him in the final minute of the tense match, including two big ones that could have broken a tight 101-all ballgame.
“Sa akin yun. Aakuin ko yung game na 'yun,” said Yap afterwards. “Tinira ko naman ng maayos, shinut-down ko naman yung distractions. Pero kasama sa laro yun. Minsan nagmi-miss ka.”
For the second straight game, Yap was the leading local scorer for the Elasto Painters with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 from the foul line.
Rain or Shine lost in both outings, but coach Caloy Garcia though, wasn’t hard on his star player after the loss.
“Sabi ko kay James nangyayari talaga yan,” the soft-spoken mentor said. “Ang maganda lang dito sa team, walang sisihan.”
The back-to-back losses pushed Rain or Shine further down the standings as it closed its elimination round campaign with a 5-6 record.
The team now awaits the rest of the field to complete their respective assignments and determine whether it gets to play in a best-of-three playoffs or worse, faced the prospect of overcoming a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
Yap, who moved 27 markers of reaching the 10,000-point plateau, is aware of the consequences had he made those crucial free throws down the stretch.
“Well, nanghihinayang. Pero wala na tayong magawa, e,” he added, “Kung maibabalik nga lang. Kung puwede nga lang ibalik, baka hindi ako nag-miss.”
For now, all Yap could do is move on and prepare for the bigger battle ahead.