SAN Mig Coffee superstar James Yap and teammate Jean Marc Pingris signified their intention to join the national team, but on one condition – they must be healthy.
Yap said his team's back-to-back Finals appearances last season had pushed him to his physical limits, thus the need to decline the call to serve flag and country through Smart Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 during the PBA offseason.
“Nagka-back spasm na din ako after naming maglaro sa Finals ng dalawang sunud na conferences. So even though gusto ko naman maglaro sa Gilas, nag-decide muna ako na ibigay na lang sa iba yung slot,” Yap said during on Monday night during a San Mig Coffee team function at the 1Esplanade in Pasay City.
The two-time league MVP added that his absence was not felt since there were many good shooters who carried the fight for Gilas in the Jones Cup, which the national team won in Taipei, and the last Fiba-Asia Cup in Tokyo.
“Napanuod ko naman ang game nila (Gilas team). Nakita ko na maganda ang chemistry nila. Maganda ding bigyan ng pagkakataon yung iba maglaro sa team. Maganda naman ang ginagawa nila, lalo na si Jeff Chan,” added the 30-year-old pride of Escalante City, Negros Occidental.
Yap has played in the last two editions of the Fiba-Asia for Men, helping the team to a ninth- (2007, Tokushima, Japan) and eighth-place (2009 in Tianjin, China) finish.
Pingris said playing against Asia’s best teams require more than just talent and skill, but a well-conditioned body that’s ready to take heavy banging against some of the region’s top big men.
“Kung ako naman, basta walang nararamdamang sakit ng katawan, maglalaro talaga ako sa national team,” said the 6-5 Pingris, who over the weekend, sprained his left ankle during their game against Alaska in Cebu City.
Pingris is one of the players coach Chot Reyes hopes to add to his lineup in the buildup to next year's Fiba-Asia for Men in Beirut. The others are June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Kelly Williams, and Arwind Santos.