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    Was there a pre-draft agreement between Purefoods, Shell on James Yap? Ryan Gregorio speaks

    Apr 22, 2020
    rumor or fact

    WAS there any gentleman's agreement between Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio and Shell management that paved the way for the TJ Hotdogs to select James Yap in the 2004 PBA Rookie Draft?

    A number of SPIN.ph commenters raised the issue after we did a redraft of the 2004 rookie class, which, started with Shell bypassing the likes of Yap to make former Ateneo standout Rich Alvarez the No. 1 selection overall.

    Asked about the matter now, Gregorio confirmed that there was indeed a deal between the two parties, although the former Purefoods coach said he could no longer piece together the exact details given that it happened 16 years ago.

    "I already forgot about that pero baka nga totoo," he said.

    "What I vividly remember was that we were praying so hard for Shell to get anybody at No. 1 so we can get James Yap at No. 2."

    Yap, after all, was a can't-miss talent who won the 2003 UAAP MVP award in his final year for University of the East. That's exactly the reason why Purefoods coveted picking him at second, no matter how loaded the draft class was.


    "The 2004 class was a deep draft. Anybody in the top five - Alvarez, Yap, [Marc] Pingris, RDO [Ranidel De Ocampo], [Sonny] Thoss - could have been chosen as the top pick overall," he said. "But we were deadset to pick James Yap even if we picked at No. 1 overall."

    The many-time PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year pointed out that during this time, the franchise was already preparing for the future and laying the foundation of a rebuild from the Alvin Patrimonio era.

    "Purefoods was in a rebuilding stage during that time and we wanted James Yap and build the team around him."

    Part of the supposed agreement with Shell was that Billy Mamaril would soon find his way to the Turbo Chargers and beef up their frontline.

    Those plans eventually panned out.

    Shell took Alvarez at the top of the class, clearing the way for Purefoods to pick Yap at second overall.

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    "We were just extremely lucky that Shell picked Alvarez and James Yap fell on our lap," said Gregorio, who won three titles as the Purefoods head coach from 2002 to 2010 - two of which with Yap in tow.

    The 6-foot-6 Mamaril did end up with the Turbo Chargers in a draft-day trade in exchange for Eddie Laure and the No. 7 pick, which the TJ Hotdogs used to get Ervin Sotto.

    The rest, as they say, was history.


      Yap became the heir apparent to longtime franchise player Patrimonio, who retired at the end of that season.

      "We got him and he turned out to be the face of the franchise for a long time," said Gregorio, now the special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.

      That acquisition also brought back the glory days for the Purefoods franchise as Yap soon found his niche alongside veterans Kerby Raymundo, Rey Evangelista, Jun Limpot, and Noy Castillo.


      Yap, of course, became a two-time PBA MVP and won seven titles with the franchise, including the 2014 grand slam under Tim Cone.

      That 12-year partnership, however, ended in 2016 when the Escalante, Negros Occidental native was sent to Rain or Shine in a blockbuster one-on-one trade for Paul Lee.

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