Two-time PBA MVP James Yap admitted the trade that saw him move out of Star to Rain or Shine in exchange for Paul Lee came as huge shock.
But minutes after being informed by Star governor Rene Pardo of the season’s biggest player swap, the 6-foot-2 Yap said he has learned to accept his fate.
“Totoo, totoo yung balita (on the trade). Nagulat ako siyempre. In fact, kakatapos lang namin mag-usap ni Gov (Pardo) and siyempre, ganun talaga ang buhay basketball. Nakakalungkot dahil siyempre 12 years din ako and going 13 (with Star),” Yap confided to FOX Sports, just less than an hour after the deal was done between Star and Rain or Shine on Thursday.
The sweet-shooting Star gunner said he holds no ill feelings on the only PBA franchise he has played for the past 12 seasons.
He even took the time to thank Star’s big bosses from the San Miguel Corp., saying without their support, there won’t be a “James Yap” in the PBA.
“Nakakalungkot dahil dyan ka nakilala, pero ngayon, gusto ko magpasalamat sa San Miguel group, lalo na kay boss Ramon Ang, kay Coach Al (SMC sports director) and sa lahat ng management, kay gov (Pardo) at kay boss Butch Alejo (San Miguel-Purefoods president), kay boss Danding (Cojuangco) kasi diyan ako sa kanila nagsimula,” he said.
The change in scenery though provided Yap with the extra motivation to play even harder and prove he’s not yet over the hill as he gets a homecoming of sorts with Rain or Shine. Before emerging as the second overall pick in 2004, Yap played for Welcoat (Rain or Shine’s former name) in the Philippine Basketball League.
For while his playing time has dwindled over the past four years due to injuries, the 13-time PBA All-Star said he is still capable of competing at a very high level.
“Ako naman handa lang naman ako. Basta laro lang ako, ibibigay ko lahat saka di ko iniisip kung sino ang mga players na nandun (in Rain or Shine). Kilala ko naman sila and I’m excited to play with them,” said the 34-year-old Yap.
Yap said retirement may coming in three years’ time, but that all depends on how he feels when that time comes.
“I think another two years, maybe pag 38 ko, tama na. So importante is pakundisyon lang kasi ako naman kundisyon pa naman ako saka kilala ko naman sarili ko,” he said.
“Kung di na kaya after two or three years, eh di pahinga. Pero as of now, I can play at a high level kasi ganun lang naman ang sikreto diyan, pakundisyon at work hard,” added Yap.
Yap averaged a PBA career-low 11.62 points, 2.93 rebounds and 1.28 assists with Star, which finished with just a total of nine wins under rookie coach Jason Webb. – Richard Dy
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