James Yap credits MBA "stint" as first big break in basketball
Paul Kennedy Lintag on May 21, 2020 11:12 AM
"Negros vs. Pampanga. Yun yung preliminary game kami bago mag-Game 1. Umiskor ata ako ng mga 40 points tapos nag-dunk ako. Dun na nag-start lahat, dami na tumatawag. Sino tong high school player na dumakdak nung preliminary game ng MBA?" — James Yap.
As one of the best players in PBA history, James Yap is a two-time league MVP and Grand Slam champion.
However, a number of things had to fall into place for James Yap to be even discovered as a prospect out of Escalante, Negros Occidental.
As a high school star from the province, Yap credits the Metropolitan Basketball Association as a huge part on why his name eventually became known in the mainstream.
In the MBA's inaugural season, Pampanga and Negros faced off for the championship, with the Dragons eventually taking the title after a 4-1 series win over the Slashers.
Before one of the Finals games, the MBA hosted preliminary games and James Yap's high school team played in one of them.
"Yung break talaga ng game ko, second year high school ako, first Finals ng MBA yun eh," Yap recalled on the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan.
"Negros vs. Pampanga. Yun yung preliminary game kami bago mag-Game 1. Umiskor ata ako ng mga 40 points tapos nag-dunk ako. Dun na nag-start lahat, dami na tumatawag. Sino tong high school player na dumakdak nung preliminary game ng MBA?" Yap added.
From Escalante, Yap says an uncle of his helped him to get to the city.
The first stop was to go to school in Bacolod before moving on to Iloilo and eventually, Manila where he landed at the University of the East to become a Red Warrior in the UAAP.
The rest, as they say, is history.
"Nung high school ako, ginuide ako nung uncle ko. Actually nung elementary ako, yung uncle ko stays in Bacolod, so two hours from Escalante. Di niya ako nakita nung bata ako. Eh nung pa-graduate na ako ng elementary, nakita niya na meron pala akong pamangkin na naglalaro ng basketball, kasi siya naglaro din nung college pero sa Cebu," Yap recalled.
"Nakita niya ako, pinasok niya ako sa isang school sa Bacolod. One year ako dun then lumipat ako ng Iloilo, dun ako nakilala dahil yung school namin, naglalaro kami dito sa Manila. Maraming coach nanonood, nags-scout," James added.
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