PBA All-Star: Biggest snubs and surprises
Popularity, as expected, weighed heavily over season-long excellence after the list of 24 players selected by fans to take part in next month’s PBA All-Star festivities in Passi City, Iloilo came out recently.
Most of the big names got the nod regardless of performance in the 47th season while a couple of players from crowd darling Barangay Ginebra were surprise inclusions that left out a few who would have been deserving of being a part of the event slated March 9 to 12.
HOW THE PLAYERS WERE SELECTED FOR THE ALL-STAR GAME?
The PBA tinkered its format for the exhibition classic by ending the traditional North against South game and took a page out of the NBA with the top two vote-getters being named captains and the responsibility of drafting from 22 players.
Fans were allowed to vote 24 players this time in another twist to the process. Only the starters were voted by PBA followers in the past, with the coaches given the responsibility of picking the reserves.
HOW THE ALL-STAR VOTING VALIDATED BARANGAY GINEBRA’S POPULARITY?
Eight Ginebra players made it to the game, headlined by top vote-getter Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson, who will form their teams in a draft on Monday, while Jamie Malonzo (fourth) and Christian Standhardinger (fifth) were also elected, not just because of the jerseys they wear but also because of merit.
LA Tenorio (seventh) and Stanley Pringle (10th), despite their seasons having hit with injuries and limited production, were among the top 10 players voted. But the biggest surprises were rookie Jeremiah Gray at 15th despite missing the Philippine Cup with an ACL injury and still trying to get consistent minutes, and defensive lynchpin Nards Pinto, who suddenly made the grade in the latter days of the voting to place 23rd.
Indeed, the All-Star voting served as a referendum of Ginebra’s massive appeal.
WHO WERE THE BIG NAMES VOTED?
June Mar Fajardo, James Yap, Calvin Abueva, Mark Barroca, CJ Perez, Paul Lee, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Robert Bolick, Marcio Lassiter and RR Pogoy earned return trips to the All-Star Game, though two names were chosen despite seeing little action in Season 47.
Yap had just returned this conference after a long absence due to his entry into the political spectrum as San Juan City councilor. The two-time Most Valuable Player is also playing limited action, averaging 5.2 points in six games for Rain or Shine.
Romeo has played just seven games this season for San Miguel Beer, all in the Commissioner’s Cup with a scoring average of 16.7. The multi-time scoring champion has yet to play this conference due to a hamstring problem.
WHO WAS THE OTHER SURPRISE INCLUSION?
Gian Mamuyac of Rain or Shine was the other unexpected entry in the event, placing 14th in the balloting. Mamuyac jumped inside the top 24 after the second ballot returns, perhaps due to his popularity going back to his Ateneo days.
WHO WILL MAKE THE ALL-STAR GAME FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Malonzo, Standhardinger, Bolick, Pinto, Arvin Tolentino, Kevin Alas, Chris Newsome and Mikey Williams will make their All-Star debuts. Among the mentioned names, Alas, Newsome and Pinto have been the longest-tenured players with no All-Star appearances until this year.
WHO WERE THE FOUR PLAYERS LISTED AS RESERVES?
Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, Calvin Oftana and Jio Jalalon were listed as reserves, meaning that they could be included if some players decide to opt out of the game due to an injury. The four had the most votes outside of the top 24.
WHO WERE SOME OF THE PLAYERS LEFT OUT OF CONSIDERATION?
Although listed as a reserve, Jalalon’s all-around showing since the start of the season last June should make him an automatic All-Star. Unfortunately for the Magnolia guard, he could only settle for 28th and had to wait for player pullouts in order to claim a ticket bound for Passi.
Terrafirma’s Juami Tiongson, Converge’s Maverick Ahanmisi and NLEX’s Don Trollano are some notables snubbed by fans despite overachieving for most of the season.
Tiongson and Ahanmisi did acknowledge that they were not popular enough to garner enough votes, a reality that the league may look upon in order for underrated yet worthy players to get a fighting chance at being selected.