No longer part of Xmas classic, James Yap out to give fans early treat as RoS faces Ginebra
James Yap looks to continue his fine start to the season as Rain or Shine faces fancied Ginebra. Jerome Ascano

STAR has always had compelling battles against Barangay Ginebra, and James Yap hopes to still draw the crowd as he plays for with Rain or Shine.

He won’t be in the Ginebra-Star Christmas Day game this time, but Yap is hoping to give his fans an early treat as the Painters take on the Kings on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“Exciting ’to,” Yap said. “Lahat ng fans, nood sila kasi maganda ’to.”

The Elasto Painters face the Gin Kings at 6:45 p.m. after the 4:30 p.m. match pitting Phoenix and Mahindra.

The two-time league MVP put up a solid debut for his new team, tallying 10 points — highlighted by two historic three-pointers, on top of three boards, and two assists in less than 14 minutes off the bench.

But while he’s already fully recovered from minor knee surgery in the offseason, Yap continued to temper expectations on his individual performance against the Gin Kings.

“Tingnan natin. Mahirap i-pressure sarili. Kailangan laro lang,” Yap said, adding he’s still undergoing rehabilitation and strengthening per doctor’s orders.

Still, the E-Painters have plenty of weapons they can turn to, judging from their 105-83 drubbing of woeful Mahindra in Antipolo last Wednesday in a game where they led by nearly 50 points at one point on the way to notching a second straight win.

But RoS is bracing for a Gin Kings side that’s eager to register in the win column after starting the season — and it's back-to-back championship bid — with a loss, a 108-103 decision at the hands of TNT KaTropa last Sunday.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos