ILOILO CITY—It can be easy to forget that James Yap is an All-Star 17 times and has never missed a game during the epic mid-season. It’s hard to imagine that until this season, Kevin Alas hasn’t attended a single game.
Yap’s staying power and Alas’ compelling return from a few career-threatening injuries were the interwoven career arcs in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Star Game that both thought will never come.
And it’s no surprise that both vowed to make the most of their chances on Sunday.
“Of all the places, this is where I started taking basketball seriously,” Yap told the Inquirer on Saturday after a brief practice session before the show at the City of Passi Arena.
“I’m from Escalante, but it’s here [in Iloilo province] that I went to high school. I also played in Passi City. I think I’ve really played on every pitch here,” he added with a smile.
Yap is a multiple-time All-Star and two-time Major League Player of the Year (MVP) who is well past his prime. Somehow, he broke the roster of players entering this year’s show — while some of the more active production stars were snubbed — despite a year-long absence to begin with. political career, collected 1,190,624 votes within 21 days to rank sixth in the polling rankings.
“I thank God for giving me enough strength to make it to the 17th All-Star [game]walking [into my] 19th year in PBA. i never miss [the showcase]” he say.
For a while, Alas thought that appearances among the league’s most famous stars would never come. In fact, after two similar knee ligament tears, the NLEX aces feel that playing at elite level has become a pipe dream.
“After two ACL surgeries, I never expected to compete at such a high level,” he told the Inquirer while marveling at the star-studded shootout of his teammates at the Zone. Iloilo Sports Complex.
“I have only one prayer, and that is to get back to playing basketball,” he said. “So to play alongside these superstars? I never really expected any of this.
Alas amassed 1,148,628 votes, putting him above Meralco’s Chris Newsome, Ginebra’s Nards Pinto and TNT’s Mikey Williams in a poll that has been a divisive internet topic for weeks.
Both Yap and Alas make up Ginebra’s standout, and the roster namesake tournament MVP Scottie Thompson, the team will also feature a healthy mix of sweet and fast-paced shooting stars: Christian Standhardinger, CJ Perez, Calvin Abueva, Robert Bolick, Arvin Tolentino, Jayson Castro, Stanley Pringle, Marcio Lassiter and Mark Barroca.
Team Scottie battled Ginebra’s teammate Japeth Aguilar’s team in hopes of improving the performances of the league’s rookies, sophomores and juniors last Friday.
“[We’ll] have the same tune,” said Team Scottie coach Yeng Guiao. “We’re going to enjoy ourselves and we’re going to let the fans enjoy themselves by not trading them for a sloppy game.”
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