Tubid says James Yap was already a PBA-caliber player in high school

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2020 05:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Ronald Tubid knew as far back as their high school days that fellow Ilonggo James Yap was meant for PBA stardom.

Tubid was a couple of years ahead of the future PBA Most Valuable Player, but Yap more than held his own against him during their high school years in Iloilo.

"Fourth year yata ako, si James second year," Tubid recalled during an episode of the "Crossover" podcast.

"Sabi ko, 'Oh my god, second year pa lang si James, pang-PBA na 'yung laro'," he added. "Noong time na 'yun, si James talaga, 'yung body niya, built na ever since. Payat pa kami (pero) ever since high school, pang-PBA caliber talaga si James."

Tubid said that even before he stepped foot in University of the East (UE), Yap already possessed superb ball handling and shooting skills, while also having athleticism and agility. 

He and Tubid teamed up in the Red Warriors in the early 2000s, leading them to Final 4 appearances. For Tubid, Yap's decision to commit to UE was a massive boost to him personally.

"Alam ko na talaga laro ni James," he said. "Saka hindi naman ako magaling eh -- ako, role player lang. I play defense, tapos noon, offense na."

"Si James talaga, go-to guy," he pointed out. 

Yap went on to win the UAAP MVP trophy in Season 67, before becoming the second overall pick in the 2004 PBA Draft. Since then, he has done nothing but prove Tubid right: Yap has twice been PBA MVP, won seven championships, and was named Finals MVP four times.

He has also been an All-Star 16 times and has become one of the most high-profile basketball players in the country.

"Hindi ako nagtaka na si James will be a big star in the PBA," said Tubid.

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