YAP, MERCADO FUEL TEAMS’ LATE ELIMS SURGE



Players of the Week June 21 to 27

WHEN players like B-Meg Derby Ace’s James Yap and Rain or Shine’s Sol Mercado are hot, there’s little question their teams will be north-bound.

Such was the case for the two honored as the Accel-PBA Press Corps’ Co-Players of the Week for the period June 21 to 27 as they helped power their respective teams to much-needed back-to-back wins and into enticing slots in the 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference.

Yap refused to be distracted by personal matters as he averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in Derby Ace’s victories over Barangay Ginebra and Barako Energy Coffee, the last giving the Llamados a playoff spot against the San Miguel Beermen for the second automatic semifinals berth.

“James was outstanding,” said Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio, whose team is actually the league’s hottest right now after running its win-streak up to six straight.

“Our late surge in the second round is directly related to his high-level performance,” Gregorio added. “He took it upon himself to carry the scoring load for us and he is balancing it with his hard-nosed defense.

“But what really impresses me is his ability to focus his mind on basketball and shut off everything else around him. That trait is the reason why he is so good in what he does.”

The Elasto Painters’ goal is more humble. By virtue of the win over the Tigers they earned a similar playoff spot, but against Ginebra and for the third and last outright berth in the quarterfinals.

New import Rod Nealy was a key factor for RoS, but it is also undeniable Mercado also left his indelible print in those triumphs by norming 18.0 pts, 5.0 rebs, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals.

As is his wont, Mercado wants to share the scribes’ citation with his teammates.

“It has been a total team effort these past few games for us to be in the situation we are right now,” said the 26-year-old sophomore guard.

The fact the Elasto Painters appear to be reaching their upward curve at the most opportune of times also pleases Mercado. “Our team always seems to peak towards the end of the eliminations, which sometimes is a good thing.”

Ditto for Derby Ace and that should spell bad news for the opposition come the playoffs. (NC)