, SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 (STAR) By Greggy Vera Cruz (People Asia) What's Yap?

Despite his towering frame and well-defined physique, this one-man offensive force remains grounded and is a good sport in the truest sense of the word.

Piling up enough points and sufficient rebounds, the enthusiastic crowd in the arena screams in delight, lifting the energy of the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants to a heart-pumping, adrenaline-surging finish!

The 6’3” shooting guard stations himself at the three-point area and caps a photo-finish triumph, adding another title to the team’s multi-layered cap. The scenario is very much typical of the daily grind of activities for James Carlos Yap who has been dribbling hoops in the professional basketball league for some six glorious years now.

Yet after the euphoria has subsided and as events return to their normal pace, our hero from Escalante City, Negros Occidental has learned to take things in stride by keeping a good head above his shoulders.

Rising Above His Peers

Being the unassuming and low profile gentleman that he is, James admits being honored to have been chosen as one of the “Men Who Matter” for 2010. He casually faces the rudiments of being one of the chosen subjects — groomed, stylized and showing his best angles to the camera lens’ advantage — with patience and ease.

In between takes and Adora outfit changes, James attributes his good-natured personality and positive well-being to his family and early years of rigorous training.

“I believe we were brought up imbibed with the proper values. Pinalaki kaming tama ng aming mga magulang; tinuruan din kami maging mapagkumbaba. (My parents raised us right. They taught us to be humble. Humility also remains to be a big factor in our lives),” he relates.

Hard work and constant basketball practices, he admits, are also plus points in helping him hone his craft further. James, after all, emerged to be one of the most promising basketball sensations in the Iloilo/Negros region during the late ’90s. As if all the accolades and plaudits were enough to let him be complacent, the latest being that of the 2009-2010 PBA Philippine Cup Finals MVP and Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference, James is not to rest on his laurels; rather, these are what drive him more to further pursue his sports-oriented goals.

“It’s true that all the awards being bestowed on you tend to make you more relaxed and loosen up a bit. But we shouldn’t bask in these triumphant moments. I simply consider what I have achieved to be bonuses in my career. Hangga’t kaya ko pang maglaro, kailangan ko talaga pagsikapan kung nasaan ako ngayon. (As long as I have the energy and strength to compete and play with my team, then that is the status that I have to maintain and strive for),” the University of the East alumnus attests.

With the sudden turn of events, what with Benigno C. Aquino III as his brother-in-law, James couldn’t help but recall his memories about the president-apparent.

“When I became part of the family and met Noynoy, I knew from the start that he was a simple and kind person. Minsan nga, nahihiya na akong pumunta sa Times Street pag may suot akong mamahaling relo dahil ’yung relo niya e Swatch lang. E senador na siya noon ha? Doon mo makikita na ’di siya mangungurakot at wala talagang iisipin kundi tulungan ang bansa nating naghihirap. (There were times when I was embarrassed to go to Times Street while wearing an expensive watch. He was then a senator yet he was only wearing a Swatch. It just goes to prove that graft and corruption is a no-no for him, putting foremost the welfare of our country in mind). He deserves to be the president of this country because he can really help a lot of Filipinos,” states James matter-of-factly.

The Glory of Love

It is a given that James remains to be one of the Philippine Basketball Association’s prime stellar attractions, what with his legions of fans all over the country, nay, around the world. Yet at the end of the day and after each tedious session, jersey number 18 of the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants focuses on his family, his sport and his concern for his colleagues.

“Kris is proud of my efforts, our efforts, in keeping up with the team’s standing in the league. It’s no mean feat to get into the finals of the PBA; just like passing through the eye of the needle. Our last one was way back in 2006, with the latest being this year,” he tells.

James is also a many-time member of the RP Basketball Team, having recently played in China for the World Championship Series. In fact, during the team’s first game in that foreign territory, he became the Philippines’ best player.

“I’m mighty proud to represent our country and I really consider it a great achievement to be part of the selection. Marami kasing manlalaro ang pangarap makasali sa team. Hindi na maaagaw sa ’yo ’yun; dala-dala mo na ’yun hanggang sa pagtanda mo. Siempre pag Pilipinas ang niri-represent mo, makikipag-patayan ka talaga sa mga ibang bansa. (Many basketball players dream big just to be included in the chosen list. Once you’re in, you can’t be stripped of that recognition until you reach your golden years. Bearing the Philippine flag is a matter of life and death that’s why we leave no stone unturned [in trying] to bring home the bacon),” James states matter-of-factly.

Part of the Filipino spirit in him, as James reveals, is his desire to share his blessings with the less-fortunate athletes. He reminisces the time when he was hard-up during his provincial years, to the extent of wearing weather-beaten and worn-out shoes during basketball matches.

“I believe it’s payback time. That is why as a Nike endorser, I solicit shoes from the company and bring them to the athletes based in my former school in Iloilo. It feels great to be returning the favor, because I remember the times when I was blessed during my formative years in basketball,” he concludes with zest.

Take it from the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giant whose height is as big as his heart. James Yap, after all, has proven himself to be Most Valuable, on and off the court.

Sidebar: Three-point shots for James Yap

Apart from shooting hoops and scoring victories, we follow our hardcourt heartthrob to the dug-out as we unravel more triple scorers…

Three sports he played during high school: Football, baseball, and track and field.

Three aliases he is known for: “King James,” “Big Game James,” and “Man With a Million Moves.”

Three types of music he listens to: Love songs, R&B and hip-hop.

Three of his earliest individual honors: 2003 UAAP Most Valuable Player, 2003 UAAP Mythical First Team and 2003 Mythical First Team

Three probable occupations if James was not a basketball player: A model, a businessman and even a farmer!

Three of his comfort foods: Steak, adobo and chicken tinola.

Three Father’s Day wishes for Baby James Aquino Yap: Leave showbiz (albeit temporarily), make studies his priority and minimize his being makulit. (Laughs)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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