IT’S the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs and so San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone is no longer surprised that star player James Yap has been stepping up despite his bad back.
Cone had a serious talk with the league’s two-time MVP prior to Game 1 of the Mixers’ semifinals war with top seed Alaska Aces and asked him to extend himself notwithstanding his current situation.
Yap readily obliged, pouring in 10 vital points in a pulsating 71-69 win Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five showdown.
“The big thing is, we talked to James and when you have a bad back and that restricts you, this is the one time in the playoffs where you have to be able to extend yourself,” said Cone.
“He (Yap) does have a slightly bulging disc, but we won’t be holding him back. It will be painful, but our trainers will handle his own pain management,” he added.
Yap agreed with his coach, saying he’ll do everything he can to cooperate with the team’s physical therapists so he could contribute in any way he can.
“Meron lang muscle imbalance sa likod ko. Ito `yung injury ko before na lumalala lang ngayon. Sabi sa akin ng PT namin, kailangan `yung hip flexor, i-release kasi tight siya,, dudurugin siya para ma-relax,” explained the San Mig guard, who added eight rebounds in 28 minutes of play.
Yap said he was thankful that San Mig’s physical therapist Arcee Cua came to his house and personally supervised the therapy on his lower back to physically prepare him for Game One.
“Ginawa namin `yun sa bahay, at thank you sa PT namin na si Arcee saka si Todd (Benfit, the team’s laser specialist). Si Arcee pumunta sa bahay para i-therapy ako, pagdating sa semis, tulungan na lang lahat gagawin. As in masakit yun (therapy on his lower back), pero laro lang talaga,” he added.
Yap said he remains unsure if he’ll be able to play in the All-Star week, where he emerged as the top vote-getter.
But he expects the coaching staff in concurrence with the team physicians to make the possible recommendation by Monday to determine if he’ll still be able to play or not.
The Mixers will be shooting for a 2-0 lead in the series on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena against the Aces.