NORTH VS SOUTH BACK IN 2015 ALL-STAR GAME
With the possible active participation of boxing icon and Kia playing coach Manny Pacquiao, the Philippine Basketball Association stages its 2015 All-Star Extravaganza in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on March 5-8.
The annual mid-season spectacle comes back to the Palawan capital city, bringing with it the return of the North versus South format.
“That’s the plan, and that will happen unless the Gilas Pilipinas pool is reassembled and the SBP requests for another participation by the national team in the All-Star Game,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.
Barring a change of plan by PBA officials, the North All Stars and the South All Stars clash in the All-Star Game on March 8 at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum.
Interestingly, the same North versus South game was held the first time Puerto Princesa hosted the PBA All-Star Week in 2010. The North team humbled the South squad, 133-130, with Gabe Norwood snaring the All-Star MVP honors.
The last time this format was featured in 2011 in Boracay, the North team also emerged victorious, 133-129, with Marc Pingris winning the MVP plum.
In bringing their respective teams to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, coaches Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer and Alex Compton of Alaska have gained the right to be the next All-Stars coaches.
Austria played nine PBA seasons from 1985 where he emerged the Rookie of the Year, but he never became an All-Star player.
Compton, on the other hand, sat beside coach Bo Perasol as the then Powerade head coach held the reins for the RSJ (Rookies/Sophomores/Juniors) team versus the Veterans in the 2012 All-Stars in Laoag City in 2012. The Veterans overpowered the RSJs, 176-144, with James Yap taking MVP honors.
Austria’s SMB players June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz are expected to have a good shot at making the All-Star Game and so are Compton’s Alaska core players Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, Cyrus Baguio and Jvee Casio.
As playing coach of Kia and with his legion of fans, Pacquiao could also become a PBA All-Star.
He’s likely to take part in a number of activities with the event set in the province where Columbian Autocar Corp. top boss Jose Alvarez is the current governor.
Nickel Asia Corp. is the event organizer. The group includes former PBA governor JB Baylon.
The PBA showcased Gilas Pilipinas opposite a PBA select team in the last two All-Star events with the two teams fighting to a 124-all tie in Digos City in 2013. Last year, the Nationals prevailed, 101-93, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Arwind Santos and Jeff Chan shared the MVP award in the Digos event while Gary David went home with the coveted ware last year.
Among the highlights of the 2014 All-Star was Asi Taulava tying the record of Alvin Patrimonio as the PBA player with most number of All-Star stints with 12. (SB)
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