EVEN after his coach heaped praises on him, James Yap, the two-time PBA Most Valuable Player, refused to take credit for the defensive effort which Tim Cone claimed was one of the keys to San Mig Coffee’s winning streak in the PBA Governors Cup.
The 6-foot-2 Yap had taken the task of guarding two of the league’s deadliest shooting guards today in Globalport’s Gary David and Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa in back-to-back games, which the Mixers’ both won with flying colors.
Against Caguioa on Sunday, Yap held his ground and limited the Ginebra star to a 0-of-11 shooting from the field to finish with six points in a 33-minute stint of an 86-89 loss to the Mixers.
Yap said guarding Caguioa was a huge challenge but emphasized he just did his part while getting defensive help from his teammates.
“Siyempre alam naman natin si Mark, siya ang go-to-guy sa (Ginebra) team. Di naman mawala sa isip natin iyan. So 'pag nakatanggap siya ng bola, dumepedensa ako sa kanya, plus help defense na rin kaya na-fo-force shot siya,” said Yap shortly after the game.
Known more as an offensive threat, the 6-foot-2 pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental said his defense remains a work in progress, especially when taking on a high-scoring guard like Caguioa who’s got a lot of moves inside and out.
“Binigay ko ang best ko saka siyempre, na-work out ko din `yung injury ko sa likod, kaya at least nadadala ko sa game,” said Yap, who’s been bothered by a recurring back problem this season.
For leading the Mixers to two straight wins, Yap earned Accel-PBA Player of the Week honors for the period covering September 2 to 8.
In his post-game interview following the win over Ginebra, San Mig coach Tim Cone stressed Yap was the best defensive player for the Mixers on the court.
“He has just been tremendous defensively. He has really stepped up and contributed on both sides of the floor,” said Cone. “That part of his game (defense) is really overshadowed. And I think he has taken the challenge and really stepped it up doing that.”
But Yap has also picked up the slack on offense. After struggling in the Mixers’ first few games, the shooting guard out of University of the East has averaged 19.0 points in the team’s last four outings, including a 19-point, nine-rebound output in the win over the Kings.
And Cone knows if Yap maintains his current pace, the Mixers could be on track to landing in the top four after the eliminations for a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
“If he continues to do all the stuff he’s been doing, we’re gonna be really tough,” said the San Mig mentor.