DAVAO CITY – The 2013 PBA All-Star Week reaches its climax with the staging of the All-Star Game – the initial showcase of Gilas Pilipinas and a match featuring stars James Yap and Mark Caguioa in one team together for the first time ever.

Calvin Abueva, Arwind Santos, Chris Ellis, KG Canaleta, Alex Cabagnot, Jay Washington, Cyrus Baguio, Jayvee Casio, Marcio Lassiter and Beau Belga will be with Yap and Caguioa forming the PBA select team that challenges the Nationals in the centerpiece event of the All-Star festivities Sunday at the Davao del Sur Coliseum in Digos City.

Flag and country is the theme of this year’s PBA All-Star Game, but don’t expect it to be just the show of the national team.

If the objective is to provide Gilas Pilipinas some competition, members of the PBA select team promise to step up and do the job.

“Basketball game pa rin yan, and as a basketball player, we’ll fight for pride. Di kami basta-basta lang magpapatalo dyan,” said Santos.

“Pasensyahan na lang, gagawin namin ang trabaho namin,” said Beau Belga, a Rain or Shine enforcer hinting at going hard against the Nationals.

“We’ll try to win this and it’s going to be a good game,” said Baguio.

“It’s just an exhibition game but the competition will be there. This is to help the national team in its training and, at the same time, a good game for the fans to enjoy,” said Casio.

National coach Chot Reyes welcomes the pronouncements of the PBA stars.

“Nabasa ko yong mga sinabi nila na gusto nila kaming tulungan in our training. I’m appreciative of that,” said Reyes, really looking for a competitive match that can jumpstart their training for the FIBA Asia Championship in August.

The Nationals play their very first game three months after its formation and three months before going to war in the Asian meet that the country hosts at the Mall of Asia Arena and at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The question is how the PBA stars match up with Gilas Pilipinas size wise, in particular with 6-foot-11 naturalized player Marcus Douthit.

Jason Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Ranidel De Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, Japeth Aguilar, Gary David, June Mar Fajardo, LA Tenorio, Marc Pingris and Sonny Thoss are the others making the Gilas team here.

Ryan Reyes and Greg Slaughter are absent due to an injury and studies, respectively.

Without the benefit of a single practice, the PBA stars are likely to engage the Nationals in a freewheeling, run-and-gun battle.

The bottom line is it’s still a fight for pride and bragging rights.

During the pre-All Stars press conference, Santos and company stressed they will come out strong, play hard and provide Smart Gilas the toughest challenge that they can give.

In their first out-of-town sortie, members of Gilas Pilipinas are also trying to improve their bonding.

The PBA has twice accommodated the participation of the national training team in the annual All-Star event. First was in 1998 when the Nationals were under coach Tim Cone, then in 2009 with the Phl team under coach Yeng Guiao. (SB)

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