CALASIAO, Pangasinan – James Yap may have fallen short again of tying the record of ageless Asi Taulava for the most number of the PBA All-Star appearances.
Still, he gets to keep a record solely his own.
For the 16th straight season, the 37-year-old gunner has been voted as starter in the All-Star game, earning the right after fans chose him to become part of the first unit of the South squad.
Taulava may hold the record for the most number of All-Star appearances at 17 following his inclusion in this year’s edition, but not all of those stints were as starters, making Yap uniquely in a league of his own.
The rare feat alone was more than enough for the two-time league MVP to express his profound appreciation to all PBA fans who continue to support him.
“Sixteenth straight year as a starter? Kahit nga ako hindi makapaniwala na talagang every All-Star, nilalagay ako as starter,” he said. “Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa walang sawang suporta ng mga fans.”
Giving this year’s stint an added thrill is the reunion among former Purefoods teammates Peter Jun Simon, Mark Barroca, and yes, four-time MVP and cage great Alvin Patrimonio.
The 52-year-old Patrimonio, now a team manager of Magnolia, was inserted as part of the South team in recognition of the 30th anniversary when the PBA first institutionalized the All-Star game on a yearly basis.
Patrimonio, who along with former frontcourt tandem Jerry Codinera, was also made part of the South squad, first played in the All-Star game in 1989.
“Si Kap (Patrimonio) naabutan ko pa (sa Purefoods). Si Jerry, nasa ibang team na noon,” Yap recalled.
Yap was a rookie at Purefoods in 2004 when Patrimonio decided to hang up his jersey.
“Siyempre, excited kasi sa All-Star lang, ano ba reunion ba yan?,” he asked.
“Masaya ito, kasi yun naman ang All-Star. Binabalik lang natin sa mga fans yung suporta nila sa PBA.”