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James Yap almost played for La Salle. Here's why he never became a Green Archer.

by Niel Victor Masoy, May 19, 2020 3:26pm

Everytime he doesn't have classes and commitments to his high school basketball team in Iloilo, James Yap, then a second year high school student (8th Grader in today's K-12 curriculum), used to go to De La Salle University in Manila to further hone his basketball skills.

The youngster continued the activity as he was completing his high school years, seeing the confines of the Taft-based school as his future home in college, mulling that he could become a Green Archer once he finished high school.

"Syempre ako galing sa probinsya, kung baga nagi-ensayo na ko sa La Salle nung high school ako eh, second year high school, so walang pasok yun," recalled the now 38-year-old Yap in the 2OT podcast hosted by sportscasters Carlo Pamintuan and Magoo Marjon. 

"Hindi pa pasukan ng La Salle. Everytime na walang pasok yung La Salle, tapos off rin ako, wala kaming pasok. Pumupunta akong Manila para mag practice sa La Salle," added Yap, who played for the Bacolod Tay Tung High School and, the Iloilo Central Commercial High School later in his secodary basketball career.

Yap, through repetitive visits to La Salle during times when its semesters were in hiatus, felt that La Salle was his destination, or so he thought.

"Actually, mag La Salle na sana ako kaso lang medyo nagkagulo. Ewan ko kung anong nangyari kasi yung uncle ko kumakausap dun. Medyo nagkagulo, so hindi kami nagkatuluyan sa La Salle."

Everything changed when the 1999-2000 academic year is about to come and the people started coming in. Yap was shocked.

"Yung malapit na pasukan, nag practice ako, grumaduate na ako ng high school, na culture shock ako, iba yung tao dito sabi ko, iba yung tao dito. Syempre galing probinsya diba, sabi ko hala, sabi kong ganun.

"Sabi ng tito ko, nagusap-usap ganyan, 'di ko na inalam. Ganun yung nangyari kaya napunta ako ng UE (University of the East)."

There you have it. 

Yap revealed he received offers from the Far Eastern University and Adamson University as well.

But what made him choose the Red Warriors' camp? 

Yap said it was through to the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), where he played for the Absolute team owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan.

He eventually met the late Bong Tan, son of Lucio, and established a connection with the man, whom he said bought UE just as he has graduated in high school.

And with that connection between him and Bong, Yap decided that it's best for him to choose UE, where he became a cult hero as he led the school to multiple Final Four appearances in the UAAP, all the while winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2003.

"Nung UE, high school ako, naglaro ako ng Juniors sa PBL eh, Absolute team owned by Lucio Tan," shared, Yap, who also became a legend in the Philippine Basketball Association with multiple All-Star selections, championships, and two MVP plums.

"Na meet ko si boss Bong Tan nun nung high school ako, timing rin kasi yun, pag graduate ko ng high school, nabili ni boss Bong yung UE. So para hindi ako mahirapan mag adjust, nag decide ako na mag UE na lang ako kasi kakilala ko na yung may ari ganyan. So dun na, kaya ako napunta ng UE."

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