For the first time since 2009, James Yap will be donning the Philippines’ colors.
The 36-year-old legend will be one of the country’s flag-bearers in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, as he is part of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ core that will be bannering Gilas Pilipinas.
This will be Yap’s return to national team duties after nearly a decade. He last suited up for the star-studded Powerade Team Pilipinas in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, China.
“It’s an honor ulit na maka-represent sa bansa natin. Matagal na, kaya parang feeling ko rookie ulit,” said Yap after Gilas’ first practice at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Just like any other Filipino, Yap was also saddened when the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas pulled the plug on their Asiad bid, saying that joining the meet would not be optimal.
But when the federation, along with the Philippine Basketball Association, decided to rejoin the tilt, everybody was delighted, and so are the players part of coach Yeng Guiao’s team.
“Siyempre basketball country tayo ‘no, nung nalaman namin na [withdraw] syempre malungkot. Tsaka hindi lang naman kami yung malungkot, pati buong Pilipinas malungkot,” said Yap.
“Nung nalaman ko na represent na ulit, syempre masaya lahat.”
This will be the first-ever Asiad stint of the two-time PBA Most Valuable Player. Given that, Yap couldn’t be thankful enough for the chance that has been given to him.
“First time ko mag-Asian Games,” said the 14-year pro.
“Sobrang blessed, salamat sa tiwala. Salamat kay coach Yeng, sa Rain or Shine, tsaka sa SBP, na talagang nabigyan ako ng chance ulit.”