James Yap knows he's at the tail end of his illustrious PBA career, but before he finally hangs up his sneakers, he said he wants to win another championship.
"We can't hide the fact that now that I'm in my third year at Rain or Shine, I would like to end my career by winning a championship with the team so that somehow, I could make Mommy (Margaret) Yu happy," Yap said on 2OT on Sunday.
Margaret Yu, mother of co-Rain or Shine team owner Raymund Yu who passed away in December 2016, was a known supporter of Yap since his days with Welcoat in the Philippine Basketball League.
"I was really excited when I was traded to Rain or Shine. But we all know Mommy Yu wasn't able to see me play with the team anymore because she was already in heaven."
Yap spent his first 12 years with the Purefoods franchise, but was traded to Rain or Shine in exchange for Paul Lee in 2016. A seven-time PBA champion, Yap said he's happy to be reunited with Rain or Shine bosses Raymund Yu and Terry Que.
"It's encouraging to see bosses Raymund Yu and Terry Que present almost in every game we play. You can feel their 101 percent support, so for us players, all we need to do is repay them with our all-out effort every game," he said in Filipino.
Yap came close to achieving his goal of leading Rain or Shine to the finals in the 2019 season when the Elasto Painters reached the semis in the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner's Cup.
Rain or Shine, though, lost a tough semis series to Magnolia in the all-Filipino conference in seven games, followed by a 4-1 defeat to eventual Commissioner's Cup champion San Miguel.
In the past two years, the Elasto Painters have focused more on rebuilding as evident by the addition of younger players during the offseason. Yap said he's excited to serve as one of the mentors for their rookies, while also providing leadership.
Aside from incoming sophomores Javee Mocon and Rey Nambatac, Rain or Shine added rookies Adrian Wong, Prince Rivero, Vince Tolentino and Clint Doliguez.
Since the government imposed a lockdown in the National Capital Region in March, Yap said he has tried to keep himself in shape.
"Our trainer sends some exercises for us to do from our chat group. So even if we don't have all the gym equipment here, we try to follow these exercises," he shared.