Like the rest of the basketball-loving public, B-MEG coach Tim Cone was all praises for Llamados superstar James Yap’s performance in Game Five of the Commissioner’s Cup finals. The two-time Most Valuable Player sizzled for 30 points on 4-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc, and grabbed nine rebounds in 44 minutes of action.
But Cone bristles at the suggestion that Yap’s performance was some kind of return to form.
“People kept saying he wasn’t playing well, but they’re not looking at his rebounding, at his passing, at his defense,” said Cone.
“You think we would have gotten the top seed in the Philippine Cup if James was playing lousy? You think we could’ve gotten this far in the finals?”
The 13-time champion reiterated the team’s common chorus of how Yap’s scoring downturn this conference is a result of his commitment to B-MEG’s newfangled equal-opportunity offense.
“Before, all the plays had James taking all the shots,” said Cone. “Now, the ball goes around and James could pick his spots.”
The numbers seem to bear out Cone’s point. While Yap is averaging his lowest scoring total since his rookie year, he is putting up career-high numbers in assists this season.
Big game no big deal
A day after his sensational performance, Yap himself shrugged off his own shooting exhibition, which had the mammoth crowd of 15,183 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum rocking.
“Ganun talaga eh, best-of-three kaya kung sino ang makauna, malaki yung pag-asa. Patayan na eh,” he said.
He seemed to take more pride over the fact that he grabbed nine rebounds, second-most of the squad behind just import Denzel Bowles.
“Basta lahat ng kailangan gawin para makatulong sa team, kung rebounding, defense, scoring, passing, gagawin ko para sa team,” said Yap.
James on fire
Still, it’s undeniable that Yap has heated up in the finals. While he averaged just over 13 points a game prior the start of the series, he raised his scoring to 19.8 points per game in the championship round.
He has been firing on all cylinders in three of the past four games after scoring just nine points in Game One, which starred teammate Peter June Simon, whose performance in that game is key to understanding why Yap has been getting so many good looks since.
Yap said that the Tropang Texters’ concern about Simon as a scoring threat has opened up many opportunities for him. “Si PJ, alam naman natin, pag nalingon ka lang, i-iskoran ka niyan.”
Cone, meanwhile, goes into further detail about the different approaches Talk ‘N Text applied to his two scorers in Game Five.
“They basically covered James one-on-one. They put Ryan Reyes who, in my opinion, is the best defender in the league. So they do single-coverage on James, but they put their best defender on him,” said Cone.
“PJ, meanwhile, they put a lesser defender on him, but they trap him hard, and send a lot more help his way.
“So James, even if he has a stronger defender on him, he’s got one-on-one coverage — and that’s like putting one-on-one coverage on Michael Jordan. No matter how good the defense is, good offense will always win. Great offense always beats great defense. James was able to get good looks, and he made his shots.”
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