Yap pulls out all stops to ease back pain to help San Mig Coffee get semis berth

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James Yap endures back pain to help San Mig Coffee get semis berth. Celest R. Flores/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — His back wasn’t going to get any better soon, but James Yap hoped that even just a little reprieve from the pain would go a long way as his squad faces life and death.

A day before San Mig Coffee’s do-or-die quarterfinals match against Meralco on Wednesday, Yap had to do extra sessions therapy for his back spasms, which has been hobbling him for weeks now.

“Itong game na ’to, talagang tinrabaho ko nang dalawang araw yung therapy ko,” said Yap, saying he had his back treated late last night then even went to a chiropractor.

“Talagang inisip ko na wala nang bukas, bahala na kung anong mangyari.”

San Mig Coffee, though, got a new series coming up in the semifinals as it eliminated Meralco with a 90-82 win in game three.

But Yap hasn’t been his dominant self as of late as his body just won’t cooperate. His back, as he says, stiffens up the longer he stays on the court.

Yap couldn’t even sit up straight without pain, and has to take pain relievers.

That posed as a problem for San Mig Coffee, which overcame a 0-1 deficit in the best-of-three series, as head coach Tim Cone hesitated to use Yap in the fourth quarter.

Yap played seven minutes in the payoff period on Wednesday, where his squad clamped down on the Bolts for good. Though he missed three shots, having to draw defenders benefitted the Mixers.

“It was good to have James out there finally, playing at a high level. He was moving better,” said Cone.

“I took him out down the stretch because it was very difficult for him to chase Salvacion and Buenafe around with that back of his,” said Cone.

It was the first time in the series that he was used in the decisive period.

“Well, ako naman handa lang naman ako. Hayaan ko lang si coach na dumiskarte, lahat naman kami nagtutulungan. Papakita ko sa teammates na laban lang ako, kung may chance na maipasok ako, kailangan makatulong,” said Yap.

Yap is set to go an MRI on Thursday afternoon to know if there is deeper cause of concern for the constant pain, which he described as “parang hindi gumagaling.”

Yap, admits, though, that it’s a possibility he might not be seeing action in the playoffs if his back injury turns for the worse.

“50/50 siguro ako makalaro sa semis kasi, medyo masakit talaga. Kausapin ko si coach kung ano mang desisyon [after ng MRI],” said Yap.

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