PBA brings back North-vs-South format in 2015 All-Star Game
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2015 - 2:25pm

Game Friday

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

7 p.m. – Alaska vs San Miguel

MANILA, Philippines – For making the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, coaches Leo Austria and Alex Compton have also gained the rights to call the shots for the opposing teams in the 2015 PBA All-Star Game, highlighting the annual all-star festivities set this year in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan on March 5-8.

The PBA mid-season spectacle is reverting back to the North-versus-South format unless coach Tab Baldwin forms the Gilas Pilipinas pool then the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas requests for another All-Star match pitting the national team versus the PBA All-Star.

“Right now, the plan is to bring back the North-South match. But the PBA can change the plan if there’s a request from Gilas,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.

Nickel Asia Corp., a giant mining company where former PBA governor JB Baylon now belongs, paid the PBA Php2 million to be the organizers of the All-Stars to be held in Puerto Princesa for the second time in five years.

Boxing icon and KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao is likely to have an active participation with the event set in the province where Columbian Autocar Corp. boss Jose Alvarez is the current governor.

As the country’s No. 1 sports idol, Pacquiao may land a spot in the South team that may also feature James Yap, Junemar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter and Asi Taulava.

KIA may also enter him in the three-point shootout or in the Obstacle Challenge.

Top candidates for the North team are perennial All-Stars Mark Caguioa, Arwind Santos, Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro.

The PBA featured Gilas Pilipinas versus 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 then the Nationals prevailing, 101-93, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City last year.

Santos and Jeff Chan shared the MVP award in the Digos event then 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 participations with 12.

Right behind them are Alapag, Yap, Dondon Hontiveros and Jerry Codinera who have played 11 All-Star Games.

Austria played nine PBA seasons from 1985 where he emerged the Rookie of the Year, but he’s never played in a single All-Star Game.

Compton was assistant to coach Bo Perasol as the latter held the rein for the RSJ (Rookies/Sophomores/Juniors) team versus the Veterans in the 2012 All-Stars in Laoag City in 2012. The Veterans walloped the RSJs, 176-144, with Yap winning the MVP honors.

Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz and Alex Cabagnot are the other potential All-Star players from San Miguel Beer while Sonny Thoss, Jvee Casio, Calvin Abueva, Cyrus Baguio and Hontiveros are the top prospects for Alaska.

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