JAMES Yap and Paul Lee never crossed paths while leading University of the East squad back in their collegiate days but the two former King Warriors finally made a lasting connection Thursday when they figured in arguably the biggest trade in PBA history.
On Thursday, Star decided to part ways with the face of the franchise in Yap. In turn, the Hotshots got another player of his caliber in Lee.
Both were star players for their respective franchises in the PBA but the similarities don’t end there.
Before turning pro, Yap and Lee were instrumental in separate runs in leading the Red Warriors to become consistent UAAP title contenders in the 2000s.
In 2003, Yap had a year to remember as his play earned him the MVP honors for the Red Warriors. However, UE fell short in its title aspirations after bowing to Far Eastern University in the Final Four.
Lee then took over the Red Warriors team years after Yap made it to the pro ranks as the second pick in the 2004 PBA draft.
In 2009, Lee became the face of UE, leading the Red Warriors to an unlikely finals appearance that season and inspiring iconic headlines like the one which the Philippine Star came up with: 'Unbe-LEE-vable.'
But like Yap, Lee was unable to win the crown for UE after losing to Ateneo. A year later, Lee made it to the UAAP Mythical Five.
Incidentally, when he turned pro, Lee was also picked second overall, just like Yap, in the PBA draft when he entered the league in 2011.