AS his name was called, James Yap readily took the stage and gave an acceptance speech for his latest award.
No, it wasn’t for the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP honor, but something a successful and celebrated athlete like Yap has not had before.
Barely a week after leading San Mig Coffee to its third straight PBA title, one of the faces of Philippine basketball appeared in the PEP List Awards Night on Tuesday at the Grand Ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino to receive the Male Newsmaker of the Year plum.
The two-time PBA MVP and many-time All-Star was the only athlete to win an award in the inaugural edition of the awards night for the country’s biggest showbiz stars handed out by Spin.ph's sister website.
“Hindi ako sanay. Parang nasa ibang planeta ako,” said Yap, who traded his jersey and sneakers for a dapper charcoal suit and leather shoes for a night as he drew chuckles from the audience.
The 32-year-old Yap, a bemedalled cager since his high school playing days, has now won an award in a different arena.
“Hindi ko nga alam ko pwede bang tawaging MVP ito or hindi,” he said with a laugh later in a chat with Spin.ph when he returned to his seat.
“Kumpleto na (ang trophy case). Mayroong sports, mayroon ring showbiz,” added Yap, whose life outside basketball has been as colorful as his career on the court, mainly because of his marriage to Kris Aquino which has since been annulled.
“Sa lahat ng nagtiwala sa akin sa PEP, syempre nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila kasi grabe yung pinagdaanan ko sa buhay ko pero nandyan pa rin sila para sumuporta sa akin.”
Now, Yap shifts his focus back to basketball, although he refuses to get pressured by the thought of winning a rare grand slam.
“Hindi muna namin isipin 'yan. Basta maglaro muna kami ng mabuti. Bahala na sa dulo kung ano man.”
After all, with a star-studded well-coached side that also has Marc Pingris, PJ Simon, and Mark Barroca, among others, Yap is confident the Mixers will be there battling in the end once again.
“Ang team kasi namin walang star, walang sapawan, walang inggitan, kaya nagiging successful yung team namin,” he beamed. “Given na yun na magaling si coach Tim (Cone). Pero yung samahan talaga ng each player, maganda.”