MANILA, Philippines – On the brink of joining one of the most exclusive clubs in the history of the PBA, Rain or Shine veteran James Yap stays on an even keel.
After scoring 23 points in their 102-105 loss to TNT KaTropa in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night, Yap is now just 27 points away from becoming only the 14th player in the history of the league to score 10,000 career points.
He will pass Freddie Hubalde (9,927 points) and join a club that includes some of the most iconic players in the history of Philippine basketball – Benjie Paras, Allan Caidic, Robert Jaworski, among others.
Yet Yap – who is averaging 11.3 points per game for the Elasto Painters in the Commissioner’s Cup – seemed surprisingly unaffected by his looming achievement.
“Laro lang, laro lang,” he said. “Hindi ko iniisip ‘yun.”
“Lahat naman ng mga na-achieve ko sa career ko sa PBA, ‘di ko naman iniisip eh,” Yap explained. “Basta laro lang ako. Kusang dumarating ‘yun ‘pag hindi ka selfish, kung hindi ‘yung sarili mo lang ang iniisip mo. Laro lang ako.”
[I’ll just play. I’m not thinking about that. I don’t ever think about what I’ve achieved in the PBA, because I know that will come if you’re not selfish, if you’re not just thinking about yourself. I’ll just play.]
Since being drafted by the Purefoods franchise in 2004, Yap has gone on to win the Most Valuable Player award twice, and has won seven PBA championships, including a Grand Slam. Even in the tailend of his career, he remains one of the most popular players in the league.
When he said that he does not think too deeply about having scored 10,000 career points, Yap is not being arrogant. Instead, he keeps this mindset in order to stay focused, and stay hungry as he progresses in his career.
“Kapag pinasok mo sa utak mo ‘yung na-achieve mo sa PBA, may tendency ka kasi na mag-relax,” he pointed out. “So i-set aside mo ang nakuha mong awards sa PBA, para ‘yung hard work, ‘yung disiplina… at ‘yung gutom, andoon pa rin.”
“Para hindi ka mag-relax,” he stressed.
[If you think about your achievements, you have a tendency to relax. So I have to set aside all the awards, so that I’ll continue to work hard and be disciplined, and stay hungry for more. I can’t relax.]
Yap will have at least one more chance to inch closer to the milestone as Rain or Shine prepares for its stint in the quarterfinals, where they will either play in a best-of-3 series or face a team with a twice-to-beat advantage.
Whatever happens, Yap’s mindset is already prepared. “Laro lang,” he said calmly. “Pag nabigyan ng time maglaro, laro lang ako.”
[I’ll just play. If given the chance, I’ll just play.]
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