By Waylon Galvez
Two-time PBA Most Valuable Player James Yap of Rain or Shine left for Italy over the weekend due to pressing family matters despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a team official bared Tuesday.
Atty. Mamerto Mondragon, team representative to the PBA board, told the Manila Bulletin that Yap was initially barred by him from traveling to Italy, a country with a high case of COVID-19.
However, the shooting guard sought permission from Raymund Yu, who co-owns ROS with Terry Que, and apparently got the go signal.
“At first I didn’t want him to go… of course I’m very concerned with what’s happening now with the pandemic, and I told him he can’t go,” said Mondragon in a telephone interview.
“He said it was really important, that’s why he talked to Raymund. After that he called me again. I told him to practice health protocols and be very careful.”
The former league chairman did not detail Yap’s reasons, but he did mention “family matters” as the reason he had to travel with Italian-born wife Michela and their two kids – Michael James and Francesca Michelle.
Limited international flights have been allowed coming in and going out of the country.
Manila Bulletin tried to reach Yap for details but he was no longer available for comment.
Mondragon said that Yap, who has two years left on his three-year deal with the Elasto Painters, also asked permission from PBA commissioner Willie Marcial last Friday.
“Ang sabi sa kanya ni Commissioner sa team siya makipag-usap,” he said.
The league has barred players, coaches and other team members from travelling, particularly abroad because of the high risk of being infected by the deadly virus, which has infected millions of lives around the world and deaths to tens of thousands in various nations.
Italy is currently at No. 6 in terms of infected individuals with 233, 197 as of this writing.
Mondragon said that Yap didn’t say when he would return to the country, but he anticipates that the ace gunner would be gone for a month since it also requires a 14-day quarantine by the time he arrives in Italy.
“Of course, when he returns home, he also needs to do the same protocols on quarantine,” said Mondragon.
The league opened last March 8 but due to the pandemic, Marcial announced its postponement. In recent days, however, the board is thinking of ways to resume at least practice session of teams before the resumption of play in the Philippine Cup this 46th Season.