By Jerome Lagunzad
Rain or Shine star James Yap is back as the pro league’s finest marksman.
The two-time PBA MVP winner regained his old throne last night as he ruled the Three-Point Shootout in the 2018 PBA All-Star Extravaganza at the Batangas City Coliseum.
After emerging as the elimination round topnotcher with 24 points, Yap, 36, sustained his fiery showing as he duplicated it in the final round where he made nine money balls on the way to reclaiming the coveted title which he won back in 2009.
“After nine years, I finally got it back. I feel blessed,” said the former University of the East hotshot. “I really made sure to knock down those (moneyballs) since I know how important it is in this competition.”
GlobalPort’s lightning quick guard Stanley Pringle settled for a bridesmaid finish with just 21 points, spiked by seven made moneyballs, while TNT KaTropa guard Terrence Romeo, a two-time event champion, struggled in the finals with just 16 points, seven less than his output in the opening round.
Sharing the day’s spotlight with Yap was his Elasto Painters teammate Beau Belga, who ruled the big men edition of the Obstacle Challenge in style and Phoenix’s Rey Guevarra, who regained the Slam Dunk title by overcoming Blackwater rookie Renz Palma by the slimmest of margins.
The 6-foot-3 Guevarra executed a picture-perfect two-handed windmill dunk off the bounce to edge out the surprising Palma, 40-39, in the dunk off of what turned out to be as one of the fiercest and most entertaining slam dunk competitions in recent years.
But Guevarra still had the last laugh as he put a fitting finish to another impressive performance in the most anticipated side events of the mid-season festivities where he even jumped over a bigbike motorcycle twice, the last of it off a one-handed dunk made tougher by leaping over Phoenix teammate JC Intal.
Yap, Belga and Guevarra pocketed P30,000 each.