DIGOS CITY – The fifth and final day of the PBA All-Star week didn’t lack the excitement and drama at all what with a lot of subplots leading to the much-awaited game between the All-Stars and the Gilas Pilipinas squad.
There were Barangay Ginebra star Mark Caguioa and San Mig Coffee’s James Yap, nursing separate injuries, yet showing up and even playing around six minutes to the delight of the 4,000 fans that packed the Davao del Sur Coliseum.
Caguioa finished with a three-point field goal before leaving the game for good early in the third period.
Some people may not notice it, also, but Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva and Yap, who, days leading to the All-Star game, engaged in a verbal tussle, played together briefly being teammates in the All-Stars’ side.
The result was a nice kick-out pass during the first quarter by Abueva to Yap, who gamely sank his one and only field goal of the game – a 20-footer in front of the Gilas bench.
The 6’1″ Abueva also went up against Yap’s San Mig teammate Marc Pingris during the third period, scoring on a coast-to-coast drive at one sequence. Though the 6’6″ Pingris retaliated with his own floating jumper over the defense of Abueva.
Both squads traded three-point bombs, too. Nino Canaleta, Air21’s fast-rising gunner, connected on five triples, while Petron’s Arwind Santos, who emerged as the co-MVP of the All-Star game, added three and wound up as the top scorer with 27 points.
But as the game was on the line, Gilas shooter Jeff Chan, who shared the MVP trophy with Santos, had the last laugh.
Faking off Alex Cabagnot and getting a clear shot at the three-point range, the gunner from Rain or Shine, nailed his long-range attempt with six-tenths of a second to go to forge a 124-124 as the game ended in a draw.
The draw was the first-ever since the PBA started holding the All-Star games in 1989.
In the end, the winner, as Caguioa puts it aptly, isn’t really Gilas nor the All-Stars, but the Digos fans, who cheered at every ball possession, every basket scored, every attempt made and every hustle play between both teams.
Photo taken from Charlie Dy’s Facebook page