James Yap, PJ Simon eager to bounce back after struggling in conference opener
James Yap comes up with just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting for Purefoods. Jaime Campos

BENCHED in the crucial moments of their conference opener as they struggled with their shots, James Yap and Peter June Simon vowed to keep working to regain their shooting touch.

Yap, Simon and forward Marc Pingris, dubbed the Hotshots’ ‘Big Three’, combined to shoot just 8-of-27 from the field in Purefoods Stars’ 89-85 win over NLEX in the PBA Governors Cup on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2 Yap finished with just seven points after going 3-of-11 from the floor against NLEX.

The two-time league MVP and Simon were benched during the final two minutes as Cone opted to use three-year veteran Alex Mallari and Joe Devance in the endgame.

“Hindi na namin iisipin yun (benched in the endgame).  Basta ibigay lang namin ang best namin. Saka kung slow start, bawi na lang kami sa next game dahil ang mahalga is panalo naman,” said Yap.

Simon is confident he can find his range soon, adding that he has been working out with Mark Barroca since Purefoods bowed out of the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.

“Sumasabay ako kay Mark para feeling bata uli saka para iwas injury din at laging kundisyon lang ang katawan,” said the six-foot Simon, who had a quiet four points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field.

The 34-year-old Purefoods off guard added he’s not even thinking about the rumored trade involving him and Barangay Ginebra forward Mac Baracael.

“Every year na lang kasi ako nababanggit sa ganun (trade) kaya nasanay na rin ako,” he said.

Simon vows to lead by example as the Hotshots try to retain the remaining PBA title left from their grand slam conquest last season.

“May mga times na flat talaga start namin, pero kahit di talaga minsan ganun kaganda yung nangyayari, basta ang importante eh nandun ang leadership namin sa game,” explained the pride of Makilala, North Cotabato.

Purefoods will be shooting for its second straight win when it faces GlobalPort on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava