SOUTH COTABATO – Three years of being laid off from mainstream basketball, Roger Yap was able to guide the Manila Stars to a tough win over fellow expansion team Davao Occi Tigers, a new rising squad from Mindanao competing in the coming season of the MPBL.
But just like the old days, Yap didn’t falter and was able to guide the young squad.
In fact, he acted as playing coach in the absence of PBA legend Philip Cezar, the man tasked to handle the team in the fastest growing regional basketball league.
A member of two championship teams of the old Purefoods franchise was five years removed form playing in the PBA, but kept himself in shape by joining commercial leagues in Cebu.
“Sa Cebu playing coach ako, commercial leagues doon,” Yap told FOX Sports Philippines in an exclusive interview.
But Yap has heard a lot of great things in the MPBL and in the first preseason game, he became a first hand witness. He considers playing here as a big challenge to his already accomplished career.
“Ito parang challenge sa akin ito, lalo na mga kalaban mo mga bata. Kaya pa naman. Advantage pa rin yung beterano dyan,” added Yap.
A member of three Purefoods champion teams, Yap isn’t sure though whether his involvement in Manila would be short or long term.
“Nakadepende pa rin kung magtatagal pa ako sa laro. Actually, nasabi ko nga sa management na magko-coach na lang ako or assistant coach, pero hindi pumayag kasi kailangan daw ng beterano eh. Kailangan daw may magdala ng team kaya ayun, napilitan akong maglaro,” said Yap. “OK yung competition maganda yung level. Challenge ito sa mga beteranong gaya ko, mga ex-PBA.”
In Manila, Yap looks forward to playing under Cezar, a PBA Hall of Famer, former MVP and 15-time league champion. He was also the one responsible in giving San Juan an MBA championship in Year 2000.
“Karespe-respeto yun, kailangan magtrabaho tayo ng maayos,” he added.