IF he can have his way, San Mig Coffee superstar James Yap wants to play alongside Denzel Bowles when the Mixers defend the Commissioner’s Cup crown starting on February 8.
Currently vacationing in Milan to shake off the pain of the Mixers' failed title bid in the Philippine Cup, the two-time league MVP made a push for Bowles since he said the former best import awardee already has a firm grip not only on the Mixers' system but also the brand of play in the league.
"Yap, yap (si) James Yap," the Escalante, Negros Occidental native said when asked if Bowles gets his vote.
According to San Mig governor Rene Pardo, the team has tapped the services of Spanish League veteran Matt Rogers since Bowles won't be available until after February 18, which is the end of his contract with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Pardo, however, said the team will give Rogers - coach Tim Cone's original choice in this tournament last season before settling for Bowles when Rogers became unavailable - a chance to hold on to a spot in the team.
Rogers, who had stints with the Charlotte Bobcats and Indiana Pacers in the NBA Summer League, averaged 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Texas Rangers in the D-League and is coming off a stint as a back-up center with Leyma Basquet Corona in Spain where he averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11 games.
"Kung maganda ipapakita ni Matt, eh di siya na ang itutuloy-tuloy namin. Atleast that’s a good problem for us to solve," said Pardo.
But at the same time, Pardo said they are not closing the door on Bowles.
“Si Denzel wants to come home. He wants to come home. Definitely interesado si Bowles na bumalik sa amin kaya lang hindi siya nakakuha ng clearance at naglalaro na siya ulit dun (sa China)," said Pardo.
Yap, for his part, said they need a good import in the mid-season conference since as defending champions, San Mig will be the target of the league's nine other teams.
“I'm sure lahat ng teams ngayon ayaw pumayag na mag back-to-back kami kaya kailangan paghandaan namin ng mabuti itong conference na to," said Yap.
As to his vacation in Europe, the 30-year-old bachelor bared that he is only trying to recharge after the failed Philippine Cup campaign, where San Mig bowed to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the semifinals.
“Okay naman na ako. Masakit pero wala ka na magawa. Move on na lang," he said. “Pahinga muna ako (dito Milan) para pagbalik fresh na ulit ang mind and body."
For more photos of James Yap from his vacation, visit this link.