PBA:  RETURNING  SUSPENDED  JAMES  YAP  OUT  TO  BRIDGE  GAP

MANILA, FEBRUARY 26, 2008
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Purefoods top gun James Yap is confident the Giants can still salvage the Smart Philippine Cup championship as he looks forward to dishing out his A-game in his return from a one-game suspension.

“We can still do it. We just have to play tough and hold our ground against the very physical game of Sta. Lucia,” Yap told The STAR in Filipino.

“For sure, I’m going all out but we should help each other. One player can’t do it alone. We should work as a team,” Yap added.

The 2006 MVP winner said he’s still disappointed with his suspension in Game Five but he’s ready to concentrate on their bid to survive Game Six.

Falling behind in the best-of-seven, 2-3, after a loss Sunday, the Giants need to get back at the Realtors tomorrow to force a rubber match.

“We need to concentrate on our task since we can’t afford to commit mistakes anymore. One miss and we die. I’ll be focused on the game,” said Yap.

With the management taking care of their battle in the “James Yap issue,” Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio said he himself intends to focus on his job now.

“We need two straight wins. I think it’s doable,” said Gregorio.

“We’ve been in a deeper hole of 1-3. If we can comeout of that hole and survive, no reason for us not to come up with effort and energy to salvage this series,” said Gregorio.

Gregorio, whose team was already able to rally from a 0-2 deficit to tie Sta. Lucia at 2-2, expects to get tremendous boost from Yap in Game Six.

“James is a wounded warrior. I expect him to really give us a huge lift in his return,” said Gregorio.

Yap exploded for a personal conference-high of 32 points the next day after the Commissioner’s Office announced he has to sit out Game Five for his flagrant foul on Joseph Yeo in Game Three.

The former UAAP star from UE has been the leading scorer in the title series, averaging 27.3 points per game despite being one of the main focuses of Sta. Lucia’s defense.

Yap and his coach have been complaining his defenders are holding, grabbing and pushing him on defense.

Yap, however, said his spat with Yeo is over. The two players traded hard fouls in Game Three with Yap’s infraction resulting in his suspension.

“It’s a thing of the past for me. Actually, I didn’t take it personally. We’re friends outside the court,” said Yap.

Yap spent the day of his suspension joining wife Kris Aquino and mother-in-law former President Cory Aquino in a prayer rally at the Adamson Church.

For Yap, a side prayer means survival in the series.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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