MANILA, Philippines -- Rain or Shine veteran James Yap had little impact in their first game of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, going scoreless in just 11 minutes of action and missing all six of his field goals.
Fortunately for the Elasto Painters, they were still able to pull off an 87-83 victory over the San Miguel Beermen, with Rey Nambatac hitting a dagger three-pointer in the final 12 seconds. Still, Yap's subpar play was cause for concern for the team.
"Coming into the bubble, James was only able to practice with the team twice," revealed ROS coach Caloy Garcia after the game.
"After the first two days of practice, puro therapy ang ginawa niya, and so he wasn't able to play or practice the last probably seven days," he added.
Yap was in great shape in March, when the season was originally supposed to start before the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into crisis and halted virtually all of sports.
He spent three months in Italy with his family and only arrived in the country in September, but was able to join the Elasto Painters for their small group training before the team entered the PBA bubble in Clark, Pampanga.
But Yap was still clearly groping for form and could not get his rhythm against the Beermen, eventually sitting out the entirety of the fourth quarter. It was reported after the game that the former PBA Most Valuable Player was also dealing with a nagging knee injury.
Nonetheless, he told Garcia that he wanted to see some minutes against San Miguel, in what was Rain or Shine's first official game of the year.
"I asked him before the game if he wants to play, and he said he wants to play, subukan daw niya," said the coach. "And kita naman siguro kulang lang ang legs niya. We tried to get him to score, but today wasn't for him."
Garcia is optimistic that Yap can get into game shape and find his touch sooner rather than later, especially with the compressed schedule of the All-Filipino Cup.
"In the bubble, we have continuous games, so let's hope that he'll be healthy in the next game," he said.
Rain or Shine plays again on Friday against TerraFirma Dyip.