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A TALE OF TWO BASKETS

06:58 PM February 09, 2014

With the game hanging in the balance, James Yap caught the ball on the left wing behind the arc and threw a three-pointer as time expired.

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The ball missed its mark.

It was the Game 4 of their best-of-seven semifinal series between San Mig Super Coffee and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the score read 85-82 for the Kings.

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Two days later, with the series tied at two games apiece and the game dwindling down to its final seconds, Yap once again caught the leather from Mark Barroca on the left wing with his foot clearly behind the three-point line.

He popped up and fired a three-pointer, but this time, the ball went in with 13.4 seconds left in the game.

That proved to be the winning basket and the Mixers took a 3-2 series lead with a 79-76 Game 5 victory.

Whether it might be seen as a redemption of some sorts, Yap could only muster a few words. “At least, makakalimutan ko na yung Game 4,” he said.

“Same feeling yung tira ko dun sa last game,” Yap said. “Ang sarap ng bitaw ko (nung Game 4), tapos nag-miss. Ngayon, ang sarap din ng feeling pagbitaw ko. Buti na lang pumasok.”

Yap was freed in that crucial possession by Mark Barroca, who sucked in the Ginebra defense when he penetrated the paint. Little did the Kings know that he was going to kick the ball out to the waiting hands of the open Yap.

“Nagkataon na libre ako, pero kasama ako sa play. Nagpaiwan ako sa three points and there, nalibre ako,” he said. “Ganun naman talaga eh. Sa basketball, kung libre ka, itira mo. Eh nagkataon na libre ako, so tinira ko. Wala naman akong choice kundi itira talaga eh.”

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The two-time MVP said he already prepared himself for games like this, knowing that the stakes are higher with both teams gutting it out for a Finals spot, not to mention the rivalry between the two teams that has been dubbed Manila Clasico.

“Ganun naman talaga pag semis. Ine-expect ko na yung ganung games kasi walang gustong magpatalo kasi ang hirap makarating dito,” Yap said.

“Pagdating sa series, mahirap magkaroon ng kumpyansa. Dikdikan talaga to eh. Alam naman natin ang Ginebra, di magpapatalo yan. Di sila tatawaging never say die kung wala silang napatunayan.”

“Kaya kami, handa pa rin kami.” (RL)

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