By WAYLON GALVEZ
For the first time in eight months, two-time MVP James Yap is back playing basketball with Rain or Shine as the Elasto Painters prepare for the resumption of the Philippine Cup.
The team had its first practice session last Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga, and for the first time the 6-foot-3 Yap participated in a 5-on-5 scrimmage.
Yap missed the team’s first six games of the all-Filipino conference as he went through a knee procedure sometime in March. He was already on his way to full recovery when the PBA decided to postpone its games as the government issued a lockdown due to the rising case of COVOD-19.
“James has been diligent in getting himself physically prepared to allow us to utilize (him) on the restart of games,” said ROS mentor Chris Gavina in a message exchange with Manila Bulletin Wednesday, August 25.
“We will slowly allow him to gain his stamina, rhythm, and chemistry with his teammates as we move along this week,” added Gavina of Yap, a member of the 40 PBA Greatest Players.
The league MVP back in 2006 and 2010, Yap had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. He was already doing individual workouts when the team started practice sessions in Batangas last June.
When the league opened its season in the middle of July, Yap was already joining in mostly ‘controlled’ full court training. This time, there was no limit as Yap was able to play in full running and full contact practice sessions.
“So far so good, looks promising. We’re hoping na mag-patuloy yung magandang simula,” said JD Calinawan, a longtime Rain or Shine Physical Therapist. “Talagang tutok kami nung isang PT (Alex Almonte) pag dating sa pre and post practice regimen.”
“They (Yap and Almonte) have been working out since, and maganda naman ang result,” he said.
Yap, who is on the final season of his three-year deal with the team owned by business partners Raymund Yu and Terry Que, played 10 games last season during the ‘bubble’ Philippine Cup and averaged 7.10 points and 2.10 rebounds.
Gavina hopes to utilize Yap’s talent coming off the bench for Rain or Shine, which sports a 4-2 record. He sees Yap’s new role with ROS similar to Fil-American guard Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz, recipient of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year for 2020-21 Season.