ON vacation in his hometown in Escalante, Negros Occidental, James Yap took a trip down memory lane with a tweet on New Year's Day.
"Sa basketball court na ito nagsimula ang lahat ng pangarap," said Purefoods' two-time PBA MVP on his Instagram account @jamesyap18 where he posted a picture of him shooting hoops in a rundown backyard court.
Asked by Spin.ph to expound on his story, Yap did not hesitate to share the start of his magical career as a Philippine basketball demigod.
"Likod ng bahay namin 'yan. Ancestral home namin," said Yap, who has been on vacation in Negros since December 27. "Kami-kami lang ng mga kaibigan ko ang nagtayo niyan. Yung board, hiningi lang namin sa kapitbahay. Yung ring naman pina-welding lang. Syempre wala naman kami pambili na magbabarkada nun."
Yap revealed that the court has been there since he was in Grade Six, where his passion for basketball took roots.
"Matagal na yung court na 'yan. Twenty years na 'yan. Nasira na nga 'yan tapos inaayos-ayos lang," he told Spin.ph.
The cage star shared how he was able to hone his basketball skills on the makeshift court by diligently training by himself or with some friends.
"Dati hindi pa sementado 'yan. Nakayapak lang ako. Walang sapatos o tsinelas. Sobrang hilig ko sa basketball nung bata ako. Madalas nga ako mapagalitan ng nanay ko kasi nga nasa likod bahay na lang yung court, madalas hindi pa ako kumakain," he said, chuckling as he recounted how his mother Annie Yap would often scold him for spending so much time on the court.
"Pero syempre, takot ako sa nanay ko noon kaya hindi ko pinababayaan pag-aaral ko. Talaga lang nagbigay ako ng oras sa basketball noon. Kasi after school, gawa assignment at homework tapos laso na ulit," he said, recalling his elementary days at the Mt. Carmel College.
Yap shared how he and his childhood friends would often play in the backyard court under the scorching heat.
"Dito kami lagi 'nun. One on one, two on two, three on three. Pag umaga at hapon. Tapos pag wala na yung mga matatanda at malalaki sa plaza (court) lilipat naman kami run. Kasi di kami sinasali nun dahil maliliit pa kami," he said of friends Tabing Cortooza. Larry cantero. Jenel Carano-o.
"Ginagawa namin nun, shooting-shooting kami. Ice tubig ganun o kaya suotan ang prize," he said while revealing the support of his grandfather Francisco Yap who funded the cementing of the once barren court.
"Sa aming magbabarkada, ako ang sinasabi nila na sobrang tutok sa basketball. Kasi tawag nila sa akin nun 'Batang Plaza' kasi kahit tirik araw nun naglalaro ako ng bola," he said.
Back then, Yap said he can spend almost the whole day shooting hoops.
"Kasi pangarap ko talaga nun na maging basketball player... kasi para sa akin nun, kung talagang gusto mo 'yung pangarap mo, hahabulin mo. Kaya pursigido ako nun," said Yap.
And who is using the court now?
"Yung pamangkin ko na ang gumagamit nyan ... anak ng kapatid ko (Mary Ann). Sana magaya rin siya sa akin. Kasi mahilig din yung bata. Gaya ko noong nine years old ako," he said of nephew Josephus Obamus.