EVERY team needs somebody to take charge in the games that mattered most and Petron Blaze and San Mig Coffee certainly had plenty willing to don said mantle of responsibility.
None more so than Alex Cabagnot and James Yap, who were adjudged the Accel-PBA Press Corps Co-Players of the Week for the period Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 after leading their respective teams to the Finals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Cabagnot was the most consistent for the Boosters in the week that was with four-game averages of 15.5 points, 5.25 rebounds and 4.25 assists, including 23 markers and eight dimes in a deciding 110-89 victory over last year’s champion Rain or Shine last Monday.
Yap, who was similarly cited by the scribes for the period Sept. 2 to 8, was not too far behind with three-game averages of 15.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, including 19 points in the Finals seat-clinching 79-73 win over Meralco last Sunday.
Mixers guard Alex Mallari also came up big by coming off the bench and scattering 23 points in a 94-87 victory last Friday that put the Bolts’ back against the wall and Boosters counterpart Marcio Lassiter torched the Elasto Painters for 27 points and 12 rebounds also last Monday.
It is undeniable, however, that Cabagnot and Yap left their own indelible prints throughout the tough semifinal series, enabling their respective teams to close out the best-of-five matchups on identical 3-1 counts.
Their latest performances did not go unnoticed by their coaches.
Especially San Mig tactician Tim Cone, who continues to marvel at the steady evolution of Yap from being a mere scorer into a more all-around player.
“I think everyone rates James’ game based on whether he is scoring, but he is bringing a lot more to the table than just that,” contended Cone.
“His devotion to the defensive side and on the boards has really taken our ‘team’ basketball to another level. His mindset right now is doing whatever it takes for us to win, whether it be to score or take on the tough defensive assignment or whatever.”
Ditto for Cabagnot, whose game has taken an upward turn in the playoffs, especially at times when import Elijah Millsap struggled.
“Alex has taken it upon himself to be the leader of this team and I’m happy for him,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
“He’s now more of a table-setter for his teammates, picking his spots and basically becoming more efficient as a result.” (NC)