Grateful James Yap departs from Shine or Rain

Jan 31, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – In a surprising development, legendary PBA star James Yap and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have decided to part ways, ending the player’s 7-year tenure with the franchise. The separation was announced jointly by the team and Yap himself on Monday.

In their statement, Rain or Shine praised Yap’s contributions and impact over the years. “From his early days with Welcoat in the PBL to becoming an integral part of the Rain or Shine family in the PBA, James Yap has left an indelible mark on our franchise. We look forward to the legacy you will continue to build in the next games of your life. A million thanks is not enough to express our gratitude. More power always, Big Game James,” the team said.

Yap, a 12-time PBA champion, 2-time MVP, and member of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players list, also expressed gratitude to the Elasto Painters for the opportunity to be part of the organization for the past 7 seasons.

“After much prayer and reflection, I have decided to end my journey as an ElastoPainter. I have truly appreciated all those who have supported me during this time and thank you for making me part of your family for 7 years. I also want to extend my gratitude to the team’s management for graciously approving my request for release and allowing me to move forward to begin the next chapter in my life. I will always be grateful for this team, for all the memories, and for the lessons we went through,” Yap wrote.

The 40-year-old Yap was drafted 2nd overall in 2004 by the Air21 Express. He spent the first 7 years of his career with the Express/Air21 franchise, winning his first PBA title and MVP in 2006. In 2010, he was traded to the B-Meg Llamados (later the Purefoods Star Hotshots) where he teamed up with PJ Simon and Marc Pingris to lead the team on multiple championship runs.

After signing with Rain or Shine as a free agent in 2015, Yap helped the Elasto Painters reach the Finals in 2016 and led them to a Commissioner’s Cup title in 2016. Known for his trademark one-handed jumper and clutch shooting, Yap earned the nickname “Big Game James” for his ability to deliver in big moments.

Over his long and decorated PBA career, Yap has compiled over 12,000 points, won 2 Scoring Titles, and made 12 All-Star teams. Even at age 40, he remained a dangerous offensive threat, averaging 11.6 points in just 19 minutes per game for Rain or Shine this past season.

While no longer in his prime, Yap expressed a desire to continue playing, which necessitated his split from a crowded Rain or Shine backcourt. He will likely draw interest from several teams looking to add a proven veteran capable of providing instant offense and a championship pedigree.

“I will always be grateful for this team, for all the memories, and for the lessons we went through,” Yap reiterated. For their part, the Elasto Painters made it clear they will forever appreciate Yap’s immense contributions to the franchise. “A million thanks is not enough to express our gratitude. More power always, Big Game James,” they said.

As he seeks a new team at age 40, the PBA legend will aim to add to his loaded resume with yet another deep playoff run and perhaps one more championship. While his days of posting 30-point games may be behind him, Yap has shown he can still put up numbers in limited minutes and make an impact in big games.

His scoring punch, playmaking skills, and championship intangibles will likely make him a target for contending teams seeking to bolster their rotation. While not the same dominant force he was in his prime, Yap has made it clear he feels he still has gas left in the tank for a few more productive seasons in the PBA.

For Rain or Shine, the search now begins for new leaders to carry the franchise forward. Perhaps Rey Nambatac, entering his 5th PBA season, can blossom into the team’s next star. Or maybe the talented young big man Santi Santillan will emerge as a two-way force. Without Yap, the Elasto Painters will need several players to step up and fill the huge void he leaves on the court and in the locker room.

It is the end of one chapter for James Yap and Rain or Shine, but the beginning of an exciting new one as both player and franchise now head in different directions. Yap will look to add to his glittering career over his final seasons, while Rain or Shine starts building for the future. Regardless of what’s next, Yap’s legendary run with the Elasto Painters will never be forgotten.

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