No less than James Yap conceded that Barangay Ginebra San Miguel swingman Scottie Thompson is now the face of the Philippine Basketball Association.
The 40-year-old Yap told Daily Tribune that with his immense popularity, there is no doubt that Thompson is now the league’s most beloved player.
Aside from his hard work, passion and love for the game, his success with the Kings – on and off the court – makes him a fan-favorite in Asia’s oldest professional basketball league.
Thompson, in fact, has won seven PBA titles and was named as Best Player of the Conference and finals Most Valuable Player twice.
He is also the reigning Most Valuable Player – a testament to his hard work and dedication to getting better every game.
With that, Yap believes that it is time for him to pass the crown and hail Thompson as the new face of the league.
“Siya naman na talaga,” Yap told Daily Tribune.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who is as popular as Scottie Thompson. Fans love him because of the way he plays the game. Filipinos love hard workers and that’s what they see in Scottie.”
For more than a decade, Yap used to own the title as fan-favorite.
He proved that he still has fan appeal when he was given a warm welcome during Rain or Shine’s 87-105 loss to Meralco on opening night of the Governors’ Cup last Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
Now reunited with his long-time coach from the national team, Yeng Guiao, Yap was motivated to perform and didn’t disappoint when he scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, including a well-designed three-point shot in the closing seconds of the first half.
“He is still James Yap. You can tell it by the way he shoots the basketball. He still has that excellent shooting touch,” Guiao said.
“You could also tell how popular of a player he is based on the warm he reception he received and for a long time, he’s been the face of the PBA.”
Interestingly, both Yap and Thompson played under Tim Cone.
Yap competed for Cone at the San Mig Coffee squad that won the grand slam in 2014 while Thompson, who is the perfect embodiment of Ginebra’s never-say-die attitude, still has several milestones to conquer as he enters the pinnacle of stardom.
“They both had the lure for the fans,” Cone said.
“James not only attracts the male fans, but the women fans as well because he’s a great scorer, a specially gifted athlete.”
“Scottie, on the other hand, plays for the league’s most popular team and he has his own thing of getting endeared to the fans. He has the nose for the ground, and a hard worker on both ends of the court.”
“Normally, in a team set up, teammates should get jealous of James or Scottie, but it never happened because of how well-loved these two players are not just by the fans, but also their teammates and the coaches. What a great pleasure it’s been for me coaching both these players.”