FOR someone who once reigned as a `King Warrior,' James Yap has one simple message to this year’s batch of University of the East men’s basketball team.
“Kailangan nilang i-enjoy ‘yung moment na ito dahil napakasarap ng feeling kapag nasa UAAP ka,” said Yap on Saturday when he graced the formal opening of UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament of which UE is the host school.
Yap, fresh from steering San Mig Coffee to a rare PBA Grand Slam following the Mixers’ conquest of the season-ending Governors Cup over Rain or Shine, was the special guest during the elaborate opening ceremony prepared by his alma mater.
The two-time PBA Most Valuable Player received cheers and shrieks from UE fans at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum when he led the ceremonial toss for the opening game between the Warriors and the University of the Philippines Maroons.
“Sobrang na-amaze ako. Grabe ‘yung suporta nila sa akin. Nandiyan pa rin sila. Thank you,” said the 32-year-old pride o Escalante, Negros Occidental, who was named UAAP MVP in 2003.
Yap watched the Warriors dominate the first half against the Maroons, 43-26. They eventually won by a mile, 87-59.
And based on what he saw, Yap believes the Warriors’ goal of making it to the Final Four is attainable.
“Malaki ‘yung chance nila. Nakikita ko kasi na ang goal ng team talaga ngayon is mag-Final Four. Sa nakikita ko, meron talagang pag-asa,” said Yap.