With Rain or Shine clinging on to a 107-103 lead in the final minute, James Yap took the ball and planned his next move on the right wing.
NLEX big man Bradwyn Guinto switched, giving Yap a bigger defender to work with as the clock continued to dwindle down. But with one swift cross-over, the youthful center found himself down – ankles broken – as the two-time PBA Most Valuable Player had tons of space to drill the step-back three with 40 seconds to spare. Rain or Shine 110, NLEX 103.
“I was surprised,” said Yap, recounting his final play which drew oohs and aahs from all over the Big Dome. “I’m thankful that the shot went in and I was able to make my teammates happy.”
That capped off a vintage night for Yap, who torched the net on Friday as he went 5-of-11 from three to finish with a season-best 26 points in the Elasto Painters’ 113-105 victory over the Road Warriors.
But for the Escalante, Negros Occidental native, his main focus is only to perform better in his second conference with Rain or Shine.
“I tried to strengthen my body. I did extra work because last conference, I was really nursing my surgically-repaired knee and I was trying to strengthen it,” he said, looking back at the Philippine Cup where he recovered from an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee before the start of the season.
“I rested on it a bit and strengthened my legs. I tried to be disciplined, do extra work and extra shooting. I’m happy that all of my hard work showed in the game.”
Yap is also happy to note that his chemistry with the team is slowly flourishing, with him and Jay Washington having a better grasp on how the Elasto Painters’ system works.
“J-Wash and I are just focused every practice. If we don’t understand the play, we ask coach Caloy (Garcia). We’re really focused because this team is the defending champion of the Commissioner’s Cup.
With his confidence running a high and Rain or Shine starting the conference right, Yap noted that the key for the team’s progress is to stay the course.
“We’re still far from our goal. We can’t relax. Whatever we’re doing to start the conference, we have to continue it, but be wary of the future wars ahead,” he said, before shifting to his personal showing. “I hope I can sustain this way I’m playing.”