All-Star: Gilas vs PBA Squad

Games Friday (Sports, Cultural and Business Center of Davao del Sur)

4 p.m. - Skills Competition
6 p.m. - Greats vs Stalwarts
Game Sunday (Sports, Cultural and Business Center of Davao del Sur)
6 p.m. - Gilas Pilipinas vs PBA All-Stars

After four grueling semifinal games, the PBA takes a break starting today to give way for the annual All-Star Festivities that features the Gilas Pilipinas against a PBA selection in Digos City, Davao del Norte.

The national team - composed of PBA players - is preparing for this year's FIBA-Asia Championship, which the country will host starting on Aug. 1. The event serves as the qualifying tournament for next year's World Championship in Spain.

The Commissioner's Cup best-of-five semifinals are both tied at 1-1 with top seed Alaska and Talk 'N Text bouncing back after losing the opening of their respective series.

After losing 71-69, the Aces clobbered the defending champions San Mig Coffee Mixers, 86-67, while the Tropang Texters bucked the absence of three key players - Kelly Williams, Ali Peek and Jared Dillinger - to beat the Ginebra Kings, 85-79. The Kings won the opener easily, 104-81.

In the hope of helping Gilas Pilipinas in its mission, the league diverts from its previous All-Star game format of pitting the Veterans against the Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors, which was used last year when the festivities was held in Ilocos Norte.

"This year has been very special," said Commissioner Chito Salud. "We'll be hosting the FIBA-Asia and in this All-Stars the highlight will be the unveiling of our Gilas national team and I find that very appropriate considering that Digos has always been a regular host of PBA out-of-town games."

In the past, Digos City has hosted a total of six games, including the 2011 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals, the Finals of the Philippine Cup in 2012.

"It is also a celebration of the most talented among the very best. So if you are a player it should be an honor to be chosen as part of the PBA All-Stars along with the skills events. It works both ways," added Salud.

Meanwhile, boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao expressed his desire to take part in the festivities after PBA officials were informed yesterday that the eight-time division champion wants to play - possibly in the Legends game.

Gilas Pilipinas, which will be handled by mentor Chot Reyes, will have Talk 'N Text's Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes and Ranidel de Ocampo, Rain or Shine's Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood, San Mig Coffee's Marc Pingris, Globalport's Gary David and Japeth Aguilar, Ginebra's LA Tenorio, Petron's June Mar Fajardo, Alaska's Sonny Thoss and naturalized Marcus Douthit.

Dillinger is also part of Gilas Pilipinas, but since he figured in a car accident last week, he was scratched from the line up.

The PBA All-Star team, on the other hand, will have starters - who were voted by fans - James Yap of San Mig Coffee, Mark Caguioa and rookie teammate Chris Ellis of Ginebra, Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva and Petron's Arwind Santos.

The other members of the PBA team to be coached by Alaska's Luigi Trillo, are Air21's Nino Canaleta, Petron's Alex Cabagnot, Jay Washington and Marcio Lassiter, Alaska's Cyrus Baguio and JV Casio, and Rain or Shine's Beau Belga.

The All-Star Game is scheduled Sunday.

Aside from that, other events in the All-Star Festivities are the Obstacle Challenge, the Three-Point Shootout and the Slam Dunk Contest. Also, the game between Stalwarts versus Greats game featuring ex-pros like Benjie Paras, Jerry Codinera, Bong Hawkins, Noli Locsin, Vince Hizon and Bong Ravena playing with the current PBA players will be played Friday.

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