A brand new conference only means a fresh start for James Yap at Rain or Shine.
Convinced his honeymoon stage with the Elasto Painters is all but over, the 6-foot-2 Yap intends to put his performance a notch higher in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup where Rain or Shine will try to defend its crown starting against NLEX on March 17 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Acquired from Star in a blockbuster trade in exchange for Paul Lee in the off-season, the 35-year-old Yap made a good account of himself on his initial stint with Rain or Shine in the Philippine Cup, averaging 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
However, what initially shaped up as a promising title run for the Elasto Painters turned into a complete disaster as they dropped their last four games in the eliminations and needed to survive Blackwater in a knockout duel for the final playoff spot before getting the boot by eventual three-peat champion San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup quarterfinal round.
But that painful ending should only provide Yap and the Elasto Painters another motivation in the mid-season conference.
“Excited kami kasi may chance ulit na bumawi. Lahat kami naka-focus sa practice everyday,” said the proud native of Escalante, Negros Occidental in an interview with FOX Sports on Thursday at the end of their training session at NEGA gym in Greenhills, San Juan.
Personally, Yap feels he’ll come in more rejuvenated since he’s already taking big strides following an arthroscopic operation on his right knee in the off-season.
“Mas okay ‘yung pakiramdam ko ngayon kaysa last conference. Nagpalinis kasi ako ng right knee nung off-season. Ngayon, talagang wino-work out ko in preparation for this conference. Sana maganda ang kalabasan,” he said.
Asked if he’s still feeling the pressure of taking over the shoes left by Lee who was named the Finals MVP in the course of Rain or Shine’s title conquest last year, Yap said he’s just keen on giving his all to help the Painters’ collective cause.
“For me, hindi ko iniisip ‘yun. Iniisip ko sarili ko paano ko matutulungan ang team. Basta gagawin ko ang best ko kung ano ang pwede maitulong sa team. Kahit ano mangyari, basta binigay ko ang best ko, wala akong magiging regret,” he said.
Another positive thing going for Yap is that he’s already being more open with Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia in terms of their communication.
And that’s one great news for the Painters. “Sana ito na ‘yung time na mas makakatulong ako sa team. Isa pa rin naman ako sa bago dito kaya ‘yung focus ko, dapat andun lang parati,” concluded Yap.
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