James Yap, christened as the “Man with a Million Moves,” is a thing of beauty to watch inside the court.
He’s like a master painter weaving a beautiful play everytime his hands, the largest among guards in the PBA, clutch the ball in mid-air to different directions, leaving his defenders clueless on how to block it.
It’s poetry in motion. The cliches could go on and on.
While fans are fascinated with the art Yap has mastered on the hardcourt, the former 2-time MVP is also as fascinated with fellow artists in a different field.
It was Easter Sunday, Yap and the Star Hotshots were riding high on a 3-game winning streak. Blocking their way to a fourth straight win were the undermanned San Miguel Beermen, who were missing a grieving Arwind Santos and injured regulars June Mar Fajardo and Ronald Tubid.
Yap started the game as hot as the scorching sun in the summer, rifling in 3 triples in a 15-point first-half performance. But Tyler Wilkerson, the prolific import of the Beermen, was up to the challenge.
A few moments into the third quarter and with the Hotshots staring at a 20-point deficit, Yap felt something pop in his right calf muscle.
He couldn’t move without a sting of pain. Yap had already 17 points and was looking to lead the Hotshots’ uprising. Unfortunately, he had to be carried out to the bench and a day later was diagnosed with a calf strain.
“Nung nasa halfcourt ako, pinasa sa akin ‘yung bola tapos patakbo na ako nang biglang pumutok,” said Yap recalling the moment he felt something popped.
Among the big Easter Sunday crowd anxiously watching as Yap was being carried out was TV news reporter Julius Babao and his wife Christine Bersola.
“This is the first time, actually, that we watched him. Sayang nga lang hindi sila nanalo tapos na-injure pa siya,” Babao told FOX Sports later as they waited for Yap, who was mobbed by fans outside the player’s tunnel.
“Siguro madami pa namang games, chances na mapanood namin siya ulit. We talked about this, kasi lagi kami nagdi-dinner at we set a date na hindi rin kami hirap,” Babao said. “Okay naman nag-enjoy kami.”
The friendship between the basketball superstar and one of the most popular news anchors blossomed in the art gallery exhibits.
“Naging kaibigan at barkada kami kasi pareho kaming mahilig at nagkasundo sa art (work) eh,” Babao revealed.
Inside the art gallery, it was Yap’s turn to become a fan.
“Nag-start na rin siyang mag-collect ng paintings, usually mga contemporaries at collection ng mga young artists which is good kasi na-e-encourage at mas ginaganahan silang mag-painting,” Babao said.
While the Hotshots superstar still covets more championship rings and individual awards in the PBA, he also got other treasures off the court he would like to add to his growing collection. – By Alder Almo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo