By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Ilonggo basketball fans, are you ready?
The 2023 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Star festivities had just been finalized following the players’ draft last February 20, 2023, at the TV5 Media Center.
Led by team captains Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar, this year’s edition of the PBA All-Star game took a page out of the NBA’s playbook in terms of the format and will be held in Passi, Iloilo from March 9-12 2023.
The prestigious basketball event will no longer feature the North against the South All-Stars but the pool of hoopers was picked from online and on-site voting.
Both Thompson and Aguilar had the luxury to draft their own players that will compose their respective squads come the All-Star period next month.
Christian Standhardinger became the draft’s no. 1 overall pick made by Thompson’s camp while Aguilar countered with a June Mar Fajardo selection.
Completing team Thompson are Calvin Abueva, Robert Bolick, Arvin Tolentino, Kevin Alas, Jayson Castro, Stanley Pringle, Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, and James Yap.
Meanwhile, Jamie Malonzo, Chris Newsome, Roger Pogoy, Mikey Williams, LA Tenorio, Paul Lee, Jeremiah Gray, Gian Mamuyac, Nards Pinto, and Terrence Romeo will all reinforce team Aguilar.
Tim Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach, will be taking over coaching duties for team Thompson while team Aguilar will be having coach Yeng Guiao as their leader.
Aside from the All-Star game highlight, the Ilonggos will also be treated with a three-point challenge to be joined by Aaron Black, Baser Amer, Jerrick Balanza, Juami Tiongson, Lassiter, Lee, Tenorio, Alas, Pogoy, Tolentino, and Mamuyac.
An obstacle challenge will also take place and will have the PBA’s big men led by Fajardo, Standhardinger, and Beau Belga.
Also participating in the event are James Laput, JM Calma, Raymond Almazan, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Joseph Gabayni, Ato Ular, Larry Muyang, Justin Arana, and Dave Marcelo.
Of course, the All-Star game won’t be possible without the highly-anticipated Slam Dunk competition to be headlined by Tyrus Hill, Chris Lalata, David Murrell, Malonzo, and Rosser.
The future superstars of the league will also get their spotlight in the Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors game.
Team Stalwarts will be mentored by Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia while coach Richard Del Rosario will be calling the shots for Team Greats.