JAMES Yap admittedly owes his San Mig Coffee team a big debt of gratitude, so he is repaying them in the way he knows how.
Yap gamely donned the mantle of leadership for the Mixers, propping their back-to-back wins in the week that was and earning for himself the Accel-PBA Player of the Week honors for the period Sept. 2 to 8.
In much-needed victories over GlobalPort and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the two-time MVP averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.
More important for coach Tim Cone, however, are all the other things his prized player has been doing on-court.
“He’s turned his defense up,” noted Cone. “Yeah, he’s shooting the ball well. But that means very little to me, from a coaching standpoint. To me he’s been doing all the other stuff and he’s really doing it now.
“He deserves it (citation) from a scoring standpoint but also for the rest of the stuff. He’s led us. I think he has really inspired his teammates by his defense and the effort there.”
Yap said he could do no less, considering it should be the other way around.
“Nagpapasalamat akong sobra sa mga teammates ko, kay coach Tim, sa coaching staff. Hindi talaga sila nag-give up sa akin kaya pursigido talaga akong mag-live up sa tiwala nila sa akin,” said Yap.
Not bad at all for the 31-year-old, who started the conference averaging just 5.0 points on 2-for-24 field shooting.
“Siguro marami masyadong iniisip,” explained Yap. “Pero tuloy lang ang mga workout, strengthening, and then extra time sa practice.
“Sa practice nga, kapag tumitira ako, sumisigaw sila, ‘Kumpiyansa!’ Siyempre, nabubuhayan ako ng loob. Kapag laro naman, hinahanap talaga nila ako kaya nakakataba ng puso. Sila talaga ang dahilan kung bakit ganito laro ko lately.”
Cone has a front row seat on Yap’s big rebound.
“Being so honored is especially nice, after all the flak he got in our first couple of games,” said Cone. “I think I said back then that (slump) is the best thing that ever happened to him because he’s turned it all up.”
In all, Yap has averaged 19 points and almost 6.0 rebounds the last four games and he intends to at least keep the pace up. “Kailangan ng team kaya tuloy-tuloy ang trabaho,” he stated.
Those victories pushed San Mig’s overall record to an even 3-3 and, according to Cone, Yap at least maintaining his current pace should keep them on track for a coveted top four spot and its accompanying twice-to-beat advantage in the ensuing quarterfinals.
“If he continues to do all the stuff he’s been doing, we’re gonna be really tough,” said Cone. (NC)