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Toughest James Yap defenders? 'Big Game' shares thoughts

by Reynald Magallon, May 23, 2020 10:10pm

In his 16 years of playing in the PBA, James Yap had faced numerous defenders but only a few had left lasting impressions to the two-time league MVP.

In an interview with PBA anchors Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan in an episode of their 2OT podcast, Yap named a few defenders he had faced and made his life tougher on the offensive end.

On top of his list was his current teammate in Rain or Shine and former Gilas Pilipinas defensive lynchpin Gabe Norwood. With Norwood being the E-Painters designated defender against the opposing team's scorer, the two, for the most part of their careers have found themselves at each other's faces.

That Norwood-Yap match-up was even put on a spotlight during the 2014 Governors' Cup Finals where Norwood, together with Ryan Arana and Ronnie Matias were then-head coach Yeng Guiao's antidote to James. 

Yap said he had tough times against Norwood because of his length and athleticism.

"Isa si Gabe, si Gabe kasi pag nababantay yan mabait kasi, talagang honest defense talagang gagamitin niya yung athleticism niya," Yap said of his fellow ROS veteran.

If Norwood kept it honest in defending against Yap, former San Miguel Beerman Ronald Tubid was exactly the opposite, according to James. Tubid's rugged and physical defense made it hard for Yap to get his usual shots.

"Isa pa na nahirapan ako si Ronald Tubid. Si Tubid naman di niya alam niya nakakasakit na nagpapcharge pero umaangat yung paa," Yap said in jest. "Naging teammate ko sya ng highschool sa Iloilo."

Aside from the two, Yap also named TNT Katropa defender Ryan Reyes as one of the toughest defenders he had faced. For Yap, Reyes had the perfect blend of Norwood's athleticism and nose for the ball and Tubid's tenacity and physicality.

"Si Ryan Reyes, mabigat at mabilis yung kamay, di mo pwedeng ipapakita sa kanya yung bola," Yap said of Reyes who holds the league record for the most steals in a game with 10.

"Kailangan yung katawan mo talaga hinaharang mo sa kamay niya kasi kung hindi aagawan ka talaga. Hirap na hirap ako sa kanya," Yap added.

Yap, however, stressed that he has still plenty of gas left in his tank to face the league's best defenders. And it would still take quite some time before he calls it quits - at least, not until he's able to bring in a title for Rain or Shine.

"Ang focus ko kasi ngayon yung kung papaano manalo ng championship sa rain or shine yun yung goal ko ngayon dito."


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