NEWLY-NAMED Best Player of the Conference and Finals MVP James Yap of Escalante City, Negros Occidental said he credits his team’s title victory to the coaching of Ryan Gregorio and the right lineup.

Speaking to Sun.Star Bacolod in a telephone interview last Friday, Yap said he considers Gregorio’s decision to return two of his former teammates Marc Pingris and Paul Artadi to the lineup plus the acquisition of defensive slotman Rafi Reavis and the polishing of KG Canaleta as a key ingredient in their championship victory over the favored Alaska Aces of Coach Tim Cone.

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“Medyo nakita kasi namin na tumaas ang morale ng team after the return of Marc and Rafi. It was then that we felt we were ready to fight for another title after Coach Ryan completed our lineup for the AFC,” the former Bacolod Tay Tung High School varsity ace said.

Yap, Artadi and Canaleta were members of the University of the East Red Warriors during Yap’s heyday in the UAAP. Artadi was traded to Barangay Ginebra before returning to the Purefoods bench while Pingris for a while saw action with sister team San Miguel Beer.

Asked whether he now considers Gregorio as a better coach compared to Cone by virtrue of his latest coaching feat, Yap refused to answer saying, “I wouldn’t answer that question kasi kahit si Coach mismo ayaw niyang sabihin na mas magaling na siya compared to Coach Tim.”

But Yap said Gregorio admitted that they won over Alaska simply because they had a better lineup. “Mas malakas lang siguro talaga and lineup namin kung kaya’t nanalo kami sa Alaska as what Coach Ryan has said during interviews after we won.”