By Waylon Galvez
A few weeks before the start of the PBA’s 43rd season, James Yap signed what he believes his final three years in the league with one wish in mind – giving Rain or Shine another title.
That is also one of his wishes today as he celebrates his 37th birthday.
From the looks of it, Yap seems on track of making that wish into a reality.
A two-time league MVP, Yap powered the Elasto Painters to a 75-74 win over former team – Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok – on Wednesday night at the Mall or Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
The victory solidified the team’s grip at the No. 1 spot with a 7-1 record as the Painters stretched their winning streak to five games, and more importantly, keep them on track to finishing in the top two after the elimination round for a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinal playoffs.
“Sana magtuluy tuloy. Alam mo naman out kami last season,” said Yap.
“Siguro nga malaking bagay sa amin yun, dala namin hanggang ngayong conference,” he added. (It was big for us not to advance, until now we carry that burden this conference.)
Yap scored a team high 18 points, 11 off which came in the fourth frame as he capped his heroics with a game winning three-point play with 3.2 seconds left off a foul by Rome dela Rosa.
Since the trade that shipped him to Rain or Shine from Magnolia – also known as Purefoods franchise when he spent his first 12 seasons – for Paul Lee, it marked the first time after eight meetings that Yap delivered a solid performance, living up to his moniker “Big Game James” for ROS.
Even the Rain or Shine bosses Terry Que and Raymund Yu were ecstatic with the performance of Yap this conference.
“I think this is the second coming or the rebirth of James Yap,” said Yu.
“He’s playing like the MVP we know him and we’re happy,” added Que.
According to Yap, the success he’s having so far is because of the confidence the coaching staff – led by coach Caloy Garcia – is giving him, as well as the preparations he does for the game.
“Yung conditioning and tiwala ng mga coaches. Kahit gaano ka ka-condition kung walang tiwala ang coach, wala din useless din,” said Yap.
“Sana mag-champion kami… ako as a Rain or Shine player naman,” said Yap, who has won a total of seven PBA titles with Purefoods, including a Grand Slam in 2014. (I wish we win a championship… this time as a Rain or Shine player.)