The Star Hotshots shooting guard has been dealt for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters point guard in one of the league's biggest shakeups in recent memory. This was actually ROS's third lineup change in the past two weeks, following the departures of head coach Yeng Guiao and half of the Extra Rice Inc., JR Quiñahan.
As expected, emotions ran high from the former University of the East Red Warriors, who both paid tribute to the respective teams that drafted them.
With all those sentiments behind us, it's time to analyze what this major development means for the teams and players involved. Which acquisition will pay off better? How will these two stars change the culture of their new squads?
A whole new world
Both players will face new challenges, a new system, and overall, a new environment when the new season of the PBA opens in two weeks. Yap, for one, has weathered numerous team names and coaching changes, seen teammates come and go, and even tasted a Grand Slam in his 12 years with the SMC franchise. It would be interesting to see how he adjusts to such an unfamiliar situation.
Lee has gotten used to Coach Yeng's unorthodox style, and with his fiery mentor leaving for the NLEX Road Warriors, it seems that the former is more than ready for a breath of fresh air. This has to work if Star doesn't want another trade request out of the blue from the superstar.
Who takes the final shot for Rain or Shine? Jeff Chan presents a more sweet-shooting option, but Yap—despite being removed from his best years—can still create for himself. We're not even taking into consideration up-and-coming combo guard Jericho Cruz, who is expected to play more PG now. Either way, hopefully this addition doesn't stunt the growth of the team's young guns.
In the case of the Hotshots, it's up to new coach Chito Victolero to divvy up the minutes at the point guard spot between Lee and mainstay Mark Barroca, unless he comes up with a plan for the two to share the court. Will it be the speedy Coffee Prince or the wily Angas ng Tondo taking on the bulk of the ball-handling duties for Star?
Lee should've steered the UE Red Warriors to at least one championship, if not for a bum knee. Unfortunately, injury woes continued to haunt him even in his professional career. But if this year's Commisioner's Cup Finals MVP stays healthy, expect gaudy numbers and explosive performances from a player of his caliber.
Yap, meanwhile, isn't getting any younger. Although he can still dunk, the two-time Most Valuable Player isn't just the player he used to be, judging from the dip in playing time and production. The coaching staff must figure out how to manage his minutes to keep Big Game James fresh. If Mark Caguioa could still contribute to a Finals team, why can't Yap, who is two years younger?
Main image courtesy of spin.ph.