Rain or Shine Elasto Painters veteran James Yap, has not been playing anywhere near the form which had him winning two Philippine Basketball Association MVP awards.
Age and minor injuries seemingly have taken their toll on the 39-year-old veteran.
But Rain or Shine Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia believes that Yap may not be as good as he was before but he still has enough left on his tank to help the Elasto Painters become legitimate threats in the league if he can only return to full health.
“The best way for James to be effective is to manage his health condition. If you keep James healthy, he can make big contributions to the team,” Garcia said in a published report.
“In fact, we made some special plays for James and even made some adjustments on how we’ll run our patterns. Kaya malaki pa rin talaga ang contribution niya. The biggest factor here, of course, is the age because as players get older, you really need to manage their health condition.”
Yap, who was late in joining his team in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble tournament, was far from his usual productive self.
“Sa bubble tournament, James had difficulty catching up to be in shape kasi nga ang tagal nating walang ensayo. Tapos he came from Italy pa so when he returned, he had to be quarantined for two more weeks. And maigsi lang yung tournament and halos everyday yung mga laro kaya nahirapan rin siya makuha yung game shape niya,” said Garcia.
Things will be different in the coming 2021 PBA Philippine Cup. Yap will have more time to prepare with his teammates.
“This time, mas nakapag-prepare si James. He works hard in practice. So we expect him to play better this season kasi he appears to be in better condition now,” Garcia said.
Other than Yap Rain or Shine has numerous other weapons in its roster.
There are young players Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon who have earned the trust of coach Garcia after coming through with clutch performances when needed most.
Then there are veterans Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Jewel Ponferada and Mark Borboran who powered the Elasto Painters to the Quarterfinals of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup where they lost to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
However, coach Garcia will be the first to admit that to be a legitimate threat the Elasto Painters will need Yap, still acknowledged as the face of the franchise, to regain his all-star form.