Ronald Tubid and James Yap have had great encounters on the PBA hardcourt, having been part of rival squads Ginebra and Purefoods, respectively, in the mid-2000s.
But unknown to many, the two had a rich history together, back when they were still making a name for themselves in Iloilo.
In an appearance in Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ The Crossover, presented by SMART last Tuesday, the 38-year-old Tubid took a trip down memory lane, recalling how Yap was already PBA-ready even at a very young age.
“Si James nakalaban ko sa Iloilo eh. Fourth year yata ako, si James naman second year.
“So noong time na ‘yon, I was dragging James all the time. Sabi ko, ‘Oh my God, second year pa lang si James, pang PBA na ‘yung laro.’ I think there was a time na we practiced with Tanduay kasi the late boss Bong ‘yung pinaka-ano doon sa Tanduay, so sumasama kaming tatlo,” shared Tubid.
Upon seeing Yap put on his moves against much older guys, Tubid knew that Yap was destined for stardom in Asia’s first-pay-for-play league.
“Noong time na ‘yun, si James talaga, ‘yung body niya ‘yung built niya ever since, payat pa kami… Ever since high school, pang-PBA caliber talaga si James. Hindi ko talaga ina-ano na PBA talaga si James kasi agile, tall, ball handling, shooting… Lahat eh,” he added.
“Kaya hindi ako nagtaka na si James will be a big star in the PBA.”
The two continued their journey together, playing for the Iloilo selection team back in 1998, then eventually going to Recto to play for the UE Red Warriors.
Tubid entered UE three years before Yap did, but once they finally got the chance to play with each other again, the two did not waste any time to wreak havoc in the UAAP.
With Tubid and Yap, the Red Warriors finally made a Final Four appearance after years of absence. That, despite lacking a consistent presence in the paint.
“Well, siguro ‘yung last year ko sa UE, ‘yun ‘yung pinakamalakas kasi nandoon kami ni James, si Paul Artadi, si Canaleta. Pero ‘yung pinakakulang namin talaga ‘yung legit center,” shared Tubid, as UE’s big man rotation only had Philip Butel and Jason Almonario.
“So ‘yun talaga ‘yung before, noong time na ‘yun kailangan may established center ka eh. So minsan naglalaro ako ng kwatro o tres, kami ni James, so malakas ‘yun pero kulang lang kami ng sentro.”
UE’s Cinderella run eventually ended at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles via a heart-breaking buzzer-beater from Gec Chia. Still, Tubid had no regrets with the way he ended his collegiate career, knowing that he gave the school his all.
“Not really sayang kasi kumbaga lumaban din kami eh. I enjoyed being with those guys kasi kasama sa gutom, sa busog. No regrets naman, so lucky with those guys kasi sa hirap at ginhawa, sa panalo’t talo, magkasama kami,” expressed Tubid.
“Siguro hindi lang kami sinuwerte. May breaks of the game, minsan injury ‘yung iba. Marami kasi behind that na hindi alam ng tao na kung bakit ganoon kami sa UE. Siguro breaks lang talaga malakas talaga ‘yung team na ‘yun.”
However, Tubid believes that if only UE was able to pull off the upset rug over Ateneo, he and Yap would’ve had a UAAP title under their belt.
“Doon kami nagkulang siguro, pero hindi rin siguro kasi breaks of the game kasi nakatira si Gec ng buzzer beater eh. Kung kami nanalo noon? Baka nakakuha kami ni James ng championship sa UE.”