JAMES Yap watched helplessly from the bench as Alaska dethroned San Mig Coffee as PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion Saturday night before a crowd of 11,000 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
In the end, the injured shooting guard personally extended his apology to the entire team for not being there when they needed him most.
“Proud ako sa teammates ko. Ginawa nila lahat. Sorry sa teammates ko, sorry kay coach, at sa lahat dahil di ako nakatulong,” said Yap moments after the Aces eliminated the Mixers with an 83-78 Game Four win.
The 32-year-old Yap was declared unavailable hours before Game Four due to a back problem that only got worse as the playoffs wore on, to the point that he and his coach Tim Cone decided it was better for him to sit out.
Yap later said how he wished he was in the game especially during the stretch when the Aces made a searing run in the final period.
“Siyempre nalulungkot ako especially sa game. Gusto ko kasi makatulong sa team, pero di ako makatulong ngayon,” said Yap, who was hampered by the flu towards the tailend of the eliminations, before his back acted up throughout the playoffs.
The loss ended the Mixers' chase for back-to-back Commissioner’s Cup crown after winning the same conference last season behind Best Import Denzel Bowles.
The 6-foot-10 Bowles played his best game of the series after finishing the game with 23 points, 22 rebounds, and three assists as he tried to singlehandedly carry the Mixers on his broad shoulders in Yap’s absence.
“Ang sarap maglaro, kahit di ako naka-tape. Sa isip ko, bahala na gusto ko sana maglaro. Siyempre as a player, sanay na ako lagi sa ganun for nine years. Pag semis nandiyan ako sa loob pero wala akong natutulong ngayon,” he said.
With the Governors Cup still scheduled in mid-August, Yap intends to strengthen his back to ensure he gets back into game shape to redeem himself from a poor performance this conference.
Yap ended the series with career-lows of 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. He shot just 18.9 percent from the field (7-of-37) in the semifinal series against Alaska.