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PBA: James to see action

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Games Today
(Ynares Sports, Antipolo City)
4:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Mahindra
7 p.m. – Phoenix Fuel vs San Miguel

The rehabilitated right knee will be put to the test today.

Rain or Shine acquisition James Yap will play his first game this afternoon when the Elasto Painters battle the Mahindra Floodbusters in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.

Yap, a two-time MVP, gave the confirmation yesterday after his first 5-on-5 scrimmage.

“Laro na ako, pero limited minutes lang muna,” said Yap when contacted by Tempo.

Obtained in a blockbuster trade with Star in exchange for Paul Lee, Yap missed Rain or Shine’s opening game where it edged TNT Ka Tropa, 101-87. The former University of the East stalwart is recovering from a right knee arthroscopic surgery.

The Elasto Painters are aiming for a second straight victory when they tackle the Floodbusters in the curtainraiser at 4:15 p.m., while defending champion San Miguel Beer takes on Phoenix Fuel in the main game at 7 p.m.

San Miguel, gunning for a third consecutive Philippine Cup, is coming off an impressive 96-88 victory against Star that saw reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo collect 25 points and 16 rebounds when the league opened shop two weeks ago.

Yap, who played 12 seasons with Star, averaging nearly 16 points, 4.12 rebounds and 1.54 assists per game, said that his playing condition has improved since he first joined the team’s training session last week.

“Mga nasa 80 percent na ako ngayon sa playing condition ko, hangin na lang talaga. Wala naman na din ako nararamdaman sa tuhod ko. So ready to play na ako; excited na din ako to play for my new team,” said Yap.

RoS coach Caloy Garcia said he was impressed with Yap’s showing during the team practice after the latter showed his old brilliance – shooting well from afar and driving to the basket with the confidence and grace of a “matador.”

“I told him that if he feels he wants to suit up, he can, and if he’s ready to play, we’ll give him playing time,” Garcia said yesterday. “At least makapa niya as a player yung sistema ng team, mahirap yung na-ngangapa siya e.”

“We can try to put him in limited minutes para pa-konti konti lang. In the four days na nag-ensayo siya, maganda naman pinakita nya. In our last practice session he played 5-on-5 for the first time,” added Garcia, who is back at the RoS coaching post after Yeng Guiao stepped down following six seasons with the franchise and joined NLEX.

Rain or Shine showed it remains a formidable team in beating TNT – the team’s first game minus Lee and Guiao – as Jericho Cruz finished with 18 points, Raymond Almazan added 13 points and 12 rebounds, while veterans Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood combined for 27 points and 10 boards.

Against a rebuilding Mahindra side, Garcia said they can’t take the Floodbuster lightly even after their opponent suffered a humiliating 97-75 defeat to the GlobalPort Batang Pier last Friday.

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