James Yap glad to showcase renewed vigor with rare dunk: 'Lagi ko pina-practice eh'
Until Friday night, James Yap last dunked in a game during his rookie year in 2004. Jerome Ascano

JAMES Yap turned back the hands of time when he threw down a slam dunk in Star’s record 126-73 rout of GlobalPort in their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal match on Friday.

Alone on the break early in the third quarter, the Hotshots superstar received a tap pass from Marqus Blakely and repaid the import by scoring on a one-handed flush that sent the crowd and his teammates into a frenzy.

It was the first time Yap dunked a ball in over a decade, or since 2004 when – he vividly recalls – he scored his first two points of his pro career off a dunk in a game against Coca-Cola.

“Ang tagal na nasundan no?” the 11-year veteran said.

“Lagi ko pina-practice eh,” added Yap, who credited his plyometrics training on the side for his improved conditioning. “Dati ko pa naisip na idu-dunk ko talaga pag may chance. At least nakuha ko naman.”

The two-time MVP, though, appeared to have traveled before he took off.

“Pagbigyan na lang siguro,” Yap smiled. “Hayaan niyo na. Nandun na eh. Tatawagan pa eh, sayang naman.”

Hotshots coach Tim Cone was just relieved more than anything else.

“I’m just glad he didn’t hurt himself,” the American tactician said. “I remember the times when that was easy and he was doing it with two hands.”

Yap did more than wow the crowd as he delivered an efficient performance that saw him tally 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, two steals, and one assist in 19 minutes to help the Hotshots stay alive.

“Do-or-die sa amin eh, so kailangan talaga right from the start magbigay ka ng statement na nandito kami at ready kami,” Yap said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos