Yap returns, but league still feels his suspension

By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

GAME SUNDAY (Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. -- Sta. Lucia vs Purefoods

MANILA, Philippines -- James Yap returned to action and came up with a statement game that made the message clear to Sta Lucia Realty: This time, if the Realtors want to mess around with Purefoods, they?d have to go through him first.

Urged by his coach to channel his frustration over his suspension to the court, Yap scored 20 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday night to lead the Tender Juicy Giants to an 89-81 decision of Sta. Lucia that forged a deciding seventh game for the Smart PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

?This game was special because there was no tomorrow had we lost,? Yap said in Filipino. ?Now we have a chance to win the series.?

Outside the lines of the hardwood floor he torched en route to 30 markers, the league was forced to deal with the repercussions of his suspension.

The league?s technical head went on a leave of absence reportedly after voicing his disagreement over Yap?s suspension, a knowledgeable source told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Wednesday night. Also, a television spokesperson confirmed that San Miguel Corp. was pulling out its advertisements on television and in-house in an apparent protest over the suspension.

?We wanted to survive against all odds and that?s what we did tonight,? Gregorio said, a tinge of anger very evident in his voice. ?It?s just great to have your MVP on the floor when it?s survival time.

?Deep in my heart, I believe we shouldn?t have lost James in Game 5.?

Perry Martinez, the league?s technical chief, did not approve of the suspension and went on a leave of absence after voicing his disagreement, reportedly because of health reasons.

The source, who talked on condition of anonymity, bared that Martinez and commissioner Renauld ?Sonny? Barrios disagreed on suspending Yap, with Martinez citing a memo signed by ex-commissioner Noli Eala as the reason.

According to the source, Martinez pointed out that Eala had circulated a new rule more than a year ago dismissing ?judgment calls? as mistakes of referees which cannot be reversed in any way, especially after the game in question has ended.

Martinez ?signed to upgrade Yap?s foul from Flagrant 1 to Flagrant 2,? but said that the player cannot be suspended since the league would be ?reversing a judgment call.?

Yap hit five triples in the fourth period, the last proving to be the blade that slit the Realtors? collective throats with just over three minutes left as it shoved the Giants ahead, 79-70.

Interviewed by the Inquirer, Barrios refused to comment pending the completion of the series. A board meeting is scheduled on Thursday and the controversy is expected to be on tabs.

Martinez, on the other hand, did not answer phone calls or text messages.

The scores:
PUREFOODS 89 -- J. Yap 30, Pingris 19, Salvador 10, Raymundo 9, Yap 6, Adducul 5, Simon 4, Lanete 3, Castillo 3.
STA. LUCIA 81 -- Espino 22, Mendoza 14, Reyes 11, Daa 9, Williams 9, Yeo 8, Miranda 5, Aquino 2, Gonzales 1, Omolon 0.
Quarters: 22-15, 40-30, 57-59, 89-81

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