BUZZER BEATER | James Yap gets back in the groove

By ADRIAN STEWART CO

Sunday, March 19, 2017

JUST as he promised, James Yap delivered a vintage performance as he led the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to a great start in its title-retention bid in the 2017 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night.

The Escalante, Negros Occidental-native Yap had his best performance in the last three seasons when he finished with 26 points, including five three-pointers, in the Painters’ 113-105 domination of the NLEX Road Warriors at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Aside from his all-game brilliance, the two-time PBA MVP also delivered clutch points down the stretch as he scored five straight points, a one-hander shot and a vintage step-back three-pointer over Road Warriors’ center Bradwyn Guinto, to seal the win.

Pinaghandaan ko talaga ang conference na ito kasi defending champion ang Rain or Shine,” said Yap, who just averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game averages for the Painters in the Philippine Cup.

Tsaka ngayon I am free from injury kaya kahit papaano mas naging aggressive na ako hindi katulad noong Philippine Cup,” added Yap. “Iniisip ko kung papaano ko matutulungan ang team. Basta gagawin ko ang best ko.”

Basta ako nagpapakondisyon lang. Kumakain ng tama. Hindi na rin tayo bumabata kaya kailangan nakabantay na rin,” said the 35-year-old Yap, who went to the Painters in a blockbuster trade with Star Hotshots’ Paul Lee last year.

Painters head coach Carlos Garcia said he is hoping that Yap will be healthy for the entire conference as they aim to defend their PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.

“It’s nice to see James Yap back. Basically, last conference medyo may pressure not only on him, but also on me in using him,” said Garcia. “Parang pinapakitaan niya kami na okay na siya.”

“During the off-season, medyo maganda yung takbo niya sa practice, he was working hard, he comes in early, and shoots the ball,” he added. “I just hope he’ll be healthy. If he’s healthy, then he’ll be the old James Yap.”

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Filipino boxer Czar Amonsot continued with his winning ways as he scored a huge knockout victory over Hungarian Zsigmond Vass on Friday night at the at the Melbourne Pavilion in Victoria, Australia.

In the process, the Tagbilaran, Bohol-native pugilist retained his World Boxing Association (WBA) interim Oceania super lightweight belt that he won over Mexican Christian Ariel Lopez last year.

The victory was also huge for Amonsot, who has won his last 16 bouts, as he moved up to fourth place in the World Boxing Association (WBA) world rankings in the lightweight division.

Those behind the 31-year-old Amonsot in the rankings to challenge the WBA belt of Terrence Crawford are Belarus’ Kiryl Relikh, Rances Barthelemy of Cuba and American Amir Imam.

“Czar is the next world champion. Just wait for it,” said boxing manager Brian Amatruda, who gave Amonsot a second chance after being dropped by his Filipino promoters more than a decade ago.

Amonsot, for his part, said that he is also grateful that he was given another chance to pursue his boxing career and wants to reward Amatruda with a world championship later this year.

 

“With all that what has happened to me, I am happy that I was given another chance to pursue my boxing career thanks to my manager Brian Amatruda,” said Amonsot. “That is why I am doing my best in my matches to have a shot at world title soon.”/PN