MANILA, Philippines — He is not called ‘Big Game James’ for nothing.
James Yap, shrugging off injuries, churned out big numbers anew in leading San Mig Coffee to an equalizer of a victory over Rain or Shine 106-82 in their semifinals duel on Friday.
The conference-high 34-point performance — which went along with 10 rebounds — earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps player of the Week honors for the period December 17 to 23.
Yap scattered 16 points in the third period, where the Mixers — who struggled to wrest control all match long in their 81-91 game one loss — turned the tide firmly to their favor.
Though Yap has always been capable of scoring loads, what was more impressive was delivering the noteworthy performance –which got the scribes’ nod over Alaska’s Calvin Abueva — with a strained right knee and bone spurs on his right ankle.
“He’s been a warrior having to play through a myriad of injuries and he certainly came up with a big performance just when we really needed it to match his moniker Big Game James,” noted head coach Tim Cone.
“He’s a remarkable player playing remarkable basketball and he can make the game so easy at times.”
After contributing only 11 points, going for 3-of-13 from the field and just two tries from beyond the arch, in the best-of-seven series opener, the two-time MVP knew what he had to do.
“Kailangang mag-step up,” he stated. “Gusto ko makabawi.” And he most certainly did.
In game two, he missed only 10 of his 21 attempts and nailed a career-best seven three-points to torch the Elastopainters.
“Parang masyado kong pinahihirapan ang basketball noon, drive nang drive,” he admitted in the post-Game two interview. “Naisip ko, parang nakalimutan kong may jumper ako sa labas. Iyun ang ginawa ko sa game na ito.”
Yap vows to try and dish out similar performances for the remainder of the series starting with Game three on Christmas Day.