James Yap’s veteran presence keeps Rain or Shine steady in first win
James Yap has been in the league for quite a while that he’s no stranger to the rigors of a season’s first game.
“During first games, in my experience, everyone is just too eager to play,” he told reporters in Filipino on Friday night.
So he took over. On all levels.
Not only did he figure as a much-needed senior presence for an ElastoPainters side that just lost Chris Tiu to retirement, Yap provided the scoring blueprint as well, pouring 20 points—nine of which, came in succession from distance—to lead his team to their first win.
Yap ended the affair as the team’s best scorer while adding three assists to his stat line.
“I just keep myself ready at all times,” said the 36-year-old Yap. “I always condition myself. Before practices, I do plyometrics. Coach (Caloy Garcia) told me that I should be ready this conference.”
“That lingered in my head, in a way I’m thrilled. It came from coach himself,” he added.
Aside from his mentor’s remark, Yap said he is motivated with the focus he’s seeing from his teammates.
“We got the boot last conference, and we couldn’t forget about it,” he said. “Every practice, I can see everyone is focused because they want to redeem themselves.
“We all know what it feels like to fall short, to not make it to the quarterfinals,” he said.
Yap’s last team-best performance came in July last year when he helped push Rain or Shine past GlobalPort and arrange to a semifinal duel against Barangay Ginebra in the mid-season conference. He had 27 in that game.
In the season-ending Governors’ Cup, the Elastopainters were simply out of their groove and finished 10th in the standings.
“Momentum is important,” Yap said. “Everyone’s so eager to play, I’m just glad we were able to correct it, and absorb the pressure.”
“Fortunately everybody played as a team,” he closed.
Rain or Shine is set to face Barangay Ginebra in an out-of-town affair next week.
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