DIGOS, Davao del Sur—Gilas-Pilipinas got the tuneup it needed in its first game together and engaged the PBA Selection in a match that fittingly capped the league’s All-Star Weekend here last night.
The Nationals came back from 11 points down early in the fourth quarter and needed a triple from Jeff Chan with six-tenths of a second remaining to forge a 124-all tie in the Annual Classic before thousands of thrilled fans at Davao del Sur Coliseum.
Arwind Santos, the man with the strongest case for inclusion to the national pool, starred in the fourth quarter for the Selection, who couldn’t cling to a 122-116 lead with 49.2 seconds left and settled for the deadlock.
Santos and Chan later shared the MVP award of the game, which took a very serious twist in the fourth period with the Selection coming so close to dealing the Nationals a loss in their first official outing together.
Naturalized 6-foot-10 center Marcus Douthit didn’t play, along with the injured Jimmy Alapag, and the Nationals got more than what they bargained for against the game Selection as they trailed, 92-103, after two Santos free throws off Chan with 9:39 left.
“That’s the characteristic of this team, the resoluteness,” national coach Chot Reyes said. “What was exposed in this game is our inability to play defense.”
The Nationals didn’t have their surnames printed at the back of their jerseys, nor played with the numbers they usually carry with their mother teams in the PBA.
The dance numbers of both teams before the start of the game—a tradition for close to a decade now—pumped up the sell-out crowd with the Nationals’ rendition of noontime variety show Eat Bulaga’s child wonder Ryzza Mae Dizon’s “cha-cha” almost bringing the house down.
Marc Pingris, whose father-in-law Vic Sotto is one of the top-rating show’s hosts, choreographed the routine where he put himself and fellow big men Marcus Douthit, Sonny Thoss, June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar gyrating at midcourt.
Alaska ace JV Casio and teammates Mayor Roel Paras and Paolo Anota earlier won the Shooting Stars contest after Casio drained the halfcourt shot for a total time of 65 seconds. They nipped the Arwind Santos-led team of Councilor Mark Montecillo and Robert Teo, which timed 1:18.
Rookies Chris Tiu of Rain or Shine and Chris Ellis of Barangay Ginebra on Friday won the Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk titles, respectively, and Barako Bull veteran Jonas Villanueva ruled the Obstacle Challenge for an unprecedented fourth straight year.
PBA ALL-STARS 124—Santos 27, Canaleta 20, Cabagnot 15, Belga 15, Ellis 9, Abueva 9, Casio 9, Baguio 9, Lassiter 6, Caguioa 3, Yap 2.
GILAS-PILIPINAS 124—Fonacier 18, David 17, De Ocampo 14, Thoss 11, Castro 11, Pingris 10, Tenorio 10, Norwood 10, Chan 9, Fajardo 9, Aguilar 5.
Quarters: 31-33; 65-66; 95-89; 124-124