Just hours after shipping big man JR Quinahan to GlobalPort, Rain or Shine parted ways with combo guard Paul Lee, while acquiring two-time league MVP James Yap from the Star Hotshots in a blockbuster trade, just a month before the start of the 42nd PBA season.
Rain or Shine board governor Atty. Mamerto Mondragon broke the news to FOX Sports on Thursday, saying the deal was fair enough for both teams.
“Oo, done deal na kasi may bago siyang (Yap) kontrata na two years yung pinirmahan so we will just assume that, while kay Paul Lee, sila (Hotshots) na mag-ne-negotiate,” Mondragon said.
Lee’s contract with Rain or Shine expires at the end of October. Mondragon said Lee, through his agent Lawrence Chongson will just negotiate a new deal with Star governor Rene Pardo and team manager Alvin Patrimonio.
The amiable Rain or Shine team executive said they are happy to have Yap in the fold, the long-time face of the Purefoods franchise, who despite struggling with injuries in recent seasons, remains a very deadly player.
“Siyempre, beterano na si James, for sure madadala niya leadership niya sa team but at the same time pare, gagamitin namin si James sa marketing side ng team namin,” he added.
Yap’s numbers have significantly dwindled the last four seasons after being slowed down by an assortment of injuries on his back, knee and calf.
Nonetheless, the PBA’s long-time resident superstar, remains a deadly gunner because of his ability to make big shots when needed.
The second overall pick of Purefoods in the 2003 PBA Draft, actually isn’t new anymore to the Asian Coating franchise, having played for Welcoat (Rain or Shine’s former name) in the defunct Philippine Basketball League some 14 years ago.
The 34-year-old Yap brings with him a rich championship experience, having won seven league titles with Star, including the rare Grand Slam in 2014 under then coach Tim Cone.
The 6-foot-2 Yap is expected to report for practice next Monday when Rain or Shine begins its early pre-season work under new coach Caloy Garcia.
Lee, on the other hand, has won two league championships with Rain or Shine, including the Commissioner’s Cup crown this season.
The former PBA Rookie of the Year is expected to serve as the face of the Purefoods franchise, which struggled with just nine wins this season under rookie coach Jason Webb.
The 27-year-old Lee will be reporting for practice this Friday for Star at the Ronac gym.– Richard Dy
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