'La Salle's loss was UE's gain'
MANILA, Philippines – Before making it big in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), San Mig Coffee's James Yap was one of University of the East's (UE) biggest stars in collegiate basketball.
He paired with Paul Artadi and led the UE Red Warriors to two UAAP semifinal appearances in Season 65 and Season 66.
But do you know that "Big Game James" nearly became a De La Salle Green Archer?
In an interview on Anthony Taberna’s “Tapatan ni Tunying,” the 32-year-old native of Escalante, Negros Occidental revealed that he tried out for La Salle during his collegiate years.
“Dapat [sa] La Salle talaga [ako], and then nung nag-practice ako sa La Salle, syempre galing akong probinsya 'di ba? Sabi ko, '[parang] iba ang tao dito ah,’” confessed the now two-time PBA Most Valuable Player.
“'Na-culture shock ako! English speaking [ang mga tao]… sabi ko 'parang hindi ata ako bagay dito ah.'”
He also received an invitation from UE during that time. This led to his decision to join the Warriors instead.
“Nagkataong in-offeran ako ng UE… so ‘yun kaya pinili ko ang UE,” said Yap.
Yap joined Artadi and Ronald Tubid to lead the Warriors to two straight semifinals appearance.
Yap’s performance didn’t go unnoticed as he was named as the 66th UAAP Season Most Valuable Player of the Year.
Yap said he loved playing basketball, even as a young kid.
He said that back in the province, he used to challenge players older than him to a 3-point shootout.
“Mahilig lang talaga akong magshooting. Actually pustahan pa, piso-piso,” said Yap. “[Ang] mga kalaban ko mga tricycle driver, ‘yung matatanda sa akin.”
“Tinatalo kong lahat ‘yun. Seven years old lang ako nun ah.”
Yap said he learned to be a team player as he grew up. For him, winning games and championships are better than getting individual awards.
"Sa totoo lang hindi ko iniisip ang award, ang iniisip ko magchampion kami para everybody's happy," said Yap, who also won 3 Finals MVP awards as a PBA player.
"'Pag ikaw kasi nanalong MVP ikaw lang ang masaya."