MANILA, Philippines – Not even a knee injury could slow James Yap down.
Yap knocked in 34 points to lead San Mig Coffee past Rain or Shine, 106-82, Friday and even their best-of-seven semifinals series at 1-1 in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“Pinanood ko yung tape nung game 1, nakita ko masyado kong pinahihirapan ang basketball sa mga drive,” said Yap. “Parang nakalimutan ko na may shooting ako sa labas ( I watched the tape of game 1 and I saw I’ve been making basketball quite difficult with my drives. I almost forgot I have a good outside shooting touch).”
“Sobrang takot ko nung game 1 muntik na bumigay. Masakit pa rin pero nagpa-check up ako, wala namang major damage na nakita sa x-ray (I was really scared during game 1, it almost gave in. It still hurts but a checkup showed I did not suffer any major damage),” Yap, who nailed a career-high seven triples despite a right knee injury, said.
The six-foot-one swingman unleashed 16 points in the third quarter alone, where the Mixers outscored the Elasto Painters, 37-22, to grab a 75-62 lead heading into the final frame. They never relinquished the lead.
“We played a picture-perfect second half, James was hitting his shots, PJ was hitting his shots, we were defending they started missing,” said San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone.
Rain or Shine, which led by as much as 11 early, couldn’t sustain its fiery start with its usual hitters struggling.
Paul Lee scored only seven points on two-of-12 shooting from the field and two-of-six at the line.
Jervy Cruz and Jeff Chan had just nine and 10 points, respectively.
The Elasto Painters pulled to within nine but the Mixers answered back thanks to Yap, who drilled in a trey as the third quarter buzzer sounded.
Mark Barroca added 17 points, including a three that made it 96-76, with 3:59 left, to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists in 42 minutes.
“You have to give him a lot of credit. He’s relishing the minutes. He loves being out there,” said Cone.
Joe Devance also had 17 points while PJ Simon chipped in 13 points.
ROS coach Yeng Guiao got ejected after a second technical foul in the last four minutes of the third quarter.
Larry Rodriguez and JR Quinahan paced the E-Painters with 12 points apiece.