SAN Mig coach Tim Cone has coached James Yap for three seasons now, and has coached against him for almost a decade more in the PBA.
But the things 'Big Game' James does on court never cease to amaze his coach.
Cone heaped praise on Yap after yet another 'Big Game' moment for his star forward in Game One of the PBA Governors Cup Finals against Rain or Shine, invoking comparisons with his former stars at Alaska - Johnny Abarrientos and Jojo Lastimosa.
They Said It!
“James shows up in big moments, that’s why they call him Big Game James." San Mig coach Tim Cone
“They (Mixers) continue to amaze me all the time. James Yap continues to amaze me," said the most successful coach in PBA history at the end of San Mig's practice on Wednesday afternoon at the Ronac Gym in San Juan, Metro Manila.
"It’s the same feeling I had with the old Alaska (team), where Johnny (Abarrientos) always would do something in some games and I say, 'Wow! I have never seen that before.'"
Cone, who won a grand slam with Abarrientos and Co. back in 1996, spoke a day after San Mig's 104-101 victory over Rain or Shine moved him within two wins of the second 'Triple Crown' of his career.
Yap was spectacular in that game just as he had been for much of the playoffs, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter - and nine in the final three minutes when San Mig completed a comeback from a 17-point hole.
Cone has seen his two-time MVP struggle at certain points of the season and in games, but to see Yap step up time and again come crunchtime reminds Cone of Lastimosa during his prime.
“Jojo Lastimosa could make mistakes all through three quarters, but then, suddenly play a huge, perfect, incredible fourth quarter and hit big shots all day long,” said Cone.
“And that’s what James Yap does. James shows up in big moments, that’s why they call him Big Game James.”