Two-time PBA Most Valuable Player James Yap has yet to join Rain or Shine's team practice in Batangas as he continues to undergo strengthening and rehabilitation following a recent knee procedure.
Yap, who turned 39 last February, will be entering his 17th season as a pro this year.
While age and injuries have slowed him down in recent years, Yap still managed to average decent stats of 7.2 points and 2.10 rebounds for ROS in last year's PBA bubble.
Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina said his recent conversation with the seven-time PBA champion has been very encouraging, noting that the pride of Escalante, Negros Occidental intends to go all out in helping the franchise win another league title.
"From my talks with James, he's just as intent on winning another championship as the rest of our guys," Gavina said, baring his talk with the PBA star.
"I've always believed that when a player's will is strong enough, impossible becomes possible. And James hasn't accomplished all that he's accomplished without having the will and the heart of a true champion," stressed the 42-year-old ROS coach.
Gavina said Yap may still be in the process of recovery, but he's happy to see the 16-time PBA All-Star put in all the work this offseason.
"He's putting in the work now to show everyone what he's got (a lot) left in the tank," shared Gavina. "And I'm fortunate to have a motivated James Yap to anchor our young core of players."
While Yap may not be the focal point of ROS' offense for this coming season, Gavina believes the 16-year PBA veteran will be a reliable mentor for the team's young players like Jvee Mocon, Rey Nambatac, Vince Tolentino and Prince Rivero as well as incoming rookies like Leonard Santillan, Franky Johnson and Anton Asistio.
Yap, who won a PBA Grand Slam as a key member of the Purefoods franchise in 2014, stands as the lone active player in the 2004 batch of rookies following good buddy Marc Pingris' retirement on Tuesday.