James Yap's return to open PBA Governors' Cup

James Yap's return will happen at the start of the PBA Governors' Cup. Denver Lachica (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—James Yap's much anticipated PBA return will be the main storyline of the very first game of the PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday night.

Rain Or Shine, with the six-foot-three shooting guard-slash-San Juan City councilor back, will take on Meralco right in the opening game of the conference scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. tip-off at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

An added storyline, however, is on whether new Elasto Painters import Michael Qualls will repeat his dominating performance in their pre-conference scrimmage.

Qualls sizzled for 53 points including the game-winner with six rebounds and three blocks as ROS edged Meralco, 122-120, in their tuneup game on Monday at the Meralco Gym also in Pasig.

In the second game at 6:45 p.m. Sunday at the arena formerly known as "The ULTRA", NorthPort begins life with Bonnie Tan and Pido Jarencio exchanging roles against Converge.

Tan will now be the Batang Pier's head coach and Jarencio will now take the role of team manager.

Meanwhile, Jamike Jarin and Jojo Lastimosa's PBA head coaching debuts will be the main attraction of the Governors' Cup's first piece of the action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Jan. 25.

Phoenix takes on TNT at 5:45 p.m., right after the 3 p.m. game between Blackwater and NLEX.

Meanwhile, to give Gilas Pilipinas more time to train for the Southeast Asian Games this May, Thursday games have been added to speed up the conference beginning with a Jan. 26 doubleheader back at the PhilSports Arena.

Terrafirma takes on Converge at 4:30 p.m., while NorthPort and Meralco collide at 6:45 p.m.

The PBA will then have three straight nights of action at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, beginning with a Jan. 27 twinbill featuring the Fuel Masters against the Bossing at 3 p.m. and the Tropang Giga against the E-Painters at 5:45 p.m.

Magnolia and San Miguel, two of the Commissioner's Cup semifinalists, will make their Governors' Cup debuts on Jan. 29 also at the Ynares Center.

The Hotshots take on the FiberXers at 4:30 p.m., while the Beermen battle the Fuel Masters at 6:45 p.m.

Ginebra, the newly-crowned Commissioner's Cup champion, will make its own debut in the season-ending conference the following Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings battle the Elasto Painters at 6:45 p.m. after the 4:30 p.m. clash between the Hotshots and the Beermen.

The PBA will then hold four doubleheaders in seven nights at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, beginning with a Feb. 10 twinbill featuring Magnolia versus Phoenix at 3 p.m. and Ginebra against NorthPort at 5:45 p.m.

The main highlight of the said MOA Arena treats, however, is the pre-Valentine's Day "Manila Clasico" on Feb. 12 between the Hotshots and the Gin Kings at 6:45 p.m. right after the 4:30 p.m. clash pitting the Elasto Painters and the Bossing.

To give way to Gilas' FIBA World Cup Qualifiers game against Lebanon, the PBA will not hold a game on Feb. 24.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno