James Yap admits it will take a while to get used to not being a Star Hotshot
Longtime Star player James Yap joins the parade in a new uniform. Jaime Campos

FOR 12 years, James Yap hd played every official PBA game in a Purefoods/Star uniform.

After being traded to Rain or Shine for Paul Lee in the offseason, the two-time league MVP admitted it will take a long time to get used to not being part of the team.  

"Nanibago talaga ako kasi isipin mo, 12 years din ako sa Star, tapos bigla bigla sa parade kahapon, nasa ibang kampo na ko. Sa malayo ko na lang nakikita yung mga dating kakampi ko," said Yap, looking back at the surreal moment during Sunday's opening festivities.

Although he is putting on a brave face while trying to accept the change, Yap bared he decided to linger long after the opening rites to watch Star's game against San Miguel - the team's first since the big trade - and later catch the game on TV back home. 

"Nanuod ako ng game, tapos TV rin.  Kaso di ko na natapos, may lakad ako eh," he said smiling.

[See Pingris on first Star game without Yap: 'Mahirap na okay lang naman']

Asked why he watched the game, Yap bared it was part of the 'moving on' process. 

"Para masanay na rin ako na wala na ko sa kanila at nasa ibang team na ko. Mabigat din kasi na iba (team) na ko ngayon. Di na yung dati. Talagang nakakapanibago," said the pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental.

"Pero masaya ako sa Rain or Shine, very warm 'yung mga tao at pamilya ang turing nila sa isa't isa," added Yap. 

Asked about his take on a retooled Star Hotshots squad, Yap said, "Wala naman, good luck sa kanila. Good luck din sa amin sa Rain or Shine. Good luckan na lang kami. Yun din naman sinabi namin sa isa't isa nung nagkita kami nung parade."

"Niloloko ko nga sila eh, sabi ko baka kayo na ang mag-champion nyan kasi ampapayat nyo," he added, referring to the buff physique of his former teammates.

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After recently undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the many-time All-Star bared that he is aching to take on a new challenge in his career. 

"Syempre, bagong chapter to. Gusto ko ring maging maganda ang magiging talata ng bahaging ito. Gusto kong patunayan ang kaya kong ipakita," he said. 

Yap hopes to return to action in Rain or Shine's second game against the Mahindra Enforcer but said he will likely be ready for the team's third game against Ginebra. 

"Sana makalaro na ko sa second game pero kung di aabot, baka against Ginebra, third game namin sila," he said before going back to his plyometrics session.

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