RAIN or Shine coach Caloy Garcia wasn’t kidding when he said James Yap would be a “different player” in his second conference with the team.
Yap put up his best output in a Elasto Painters uniform as he led the team to a 113-105 win over NLEX on Friday for a stirring start to its PBA Commissioner’s Cup title defense.
The ROS star fired 26 points – also his highest in over the last three years, hitting five three-pointers, the last on a stepback off an ankle-breaking crossover on Bradwyn Guinto that quashed an NLEX comeback and left the Smart-Araneta Coliseum crowd in a frenzy.
Yap shot 9-of-15 from the field overall and finished with three boards, one assist, and one steal in 28 minutes as he drew solid support especially from his big men.
Shawn Taggart made a solid ROS debut as the former GlobalPort import registered 23 points, including one triple, 10 boards, four assists, four blocks, and one steal in 35 minutes.
Raymond Almazan, for his part, showed he’s fully recovered from a calf injury that caused him to miss half of the Philippine Cup as he chipped in 18 points after making all but two of his nine shots on top of adding three boards, two assists, and one block.
“James came out really good today, and even Raymond,” Garcia said. “Actually, everybody came out to play – and that’s what we want.”
“If we can be consistent, then we’ll have a great chance this conference,” he added of their title-retention bid.
Wayne Chism proved to be a thorn in the side of his former team as the new NLEX import tallied 27 points, 21 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and just one turnover in 40 minutes, while also drawing solid contribution from the locals.
Carlo Lastimosa, Eric Camson, Asi Taulava, and Kevin Alas also scored in double figures as the Road Warriors kept in step for the most part before the E-Painters proved just steadier down the stretch.
ROS 113 – Yap 26, Taggart 23, Almazan 18, Chan 12, Belga 9, Norwood 7, Cruz 6, Ahanmisi 6, Tiu 4, Ponferada 2, Washington 0
NLEX 105 – Chism 27, Lastimosa 15, Camson 14, Taulava 12, Alas 11, Lanete 8, J. Villanueva 5, Guinto 4, Soyud 3, Baracael 2, Anthony 2, Tiongson 2, Khobuntin 0, Rios 0
Quarterscores: 26-27, 62-52, 80-81, 113-105