IF there’s someone who can best guard James Yap, it’s the one who has known him the longest.
PJ Simon believes his familiarity with Yap worked in his favor in their individual matchup on Sunday night, resulting in Star’s 99-91 win over Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Simon held his teammate of over 12 years to just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting – the first time the two-time MVP failed to score in double digits in four games with the Elasto Painters.
But the Hotshots guard insisted he still had a tough time defending his longtime teammate.
“Medyo napakahirap na assignment. Napakagaling at mas malaki sakin,” said Simon, who at 5-11 is three inches shorter than Yap. “Yun lang, ginawa ko lang lahat ng makakaya ko at kung ano yung mga nalalaman ko sa kanya kung saan ko siya pwedeng bantayan. Chine-chase ko nang chine-chase.”
“Buti ‘di niya ako pinopostehan,” he added with a chuckle.
Still, Simon, who got the better of Yap offensively as he tallied a team-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in just 21 minutes as a starter, played down Yap’s off-night on offense.
“Hindi pa siya masyadong one-hundred percent eh,” Simon said. “Siguro kung talagang one-hundred percent na siya, kahit alam ko kung anong gagawin niya, makaka-score at makaka-score parin siya.”
“Syempre masaya kami kasi kami ‘yung nanalo,” he added. “Alam din namin kung ano ang nafi-feel ni James. So, yun talaga yung pinaghandaan namin para sa game na ‘to, Para sa buong team.
"Inexpect namin na talagang manalo kami, at inexpect namin (siya) to come out strong sa game, so, ‘yun, buti na-contain namin.”