MANILA, Philippines - With the participation of the players - both active and retired - as well as the solid support of thousands of fans that trooped to the venue, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud declared that the 2012 edition of the PBA All-Star Weekend in Laoag City stands out among the best.
In the two days that the All-Star festivities were held at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, fans packed the venue to the rafters, particularly the main event that featured the match between Veterans Team and the Rookies/Sophomores/Juniors (RSJs) Team.
"This year's All-Star to my mind says a lot about where PBA is today," said Salud.
That, of course, was a fitting follow up to the Commissioner's Cup finals which also broke attendance records.
A record average crowd of 16,403 was established during the best-of-seven series - highlighted by a pack of 21,000 that witnessed Game 7 of the series won by B-Meg at the expense of last year's champion Talk 'N Text.
Salud said: "First, the warm, rousing welcome we received from our gracious hosts (Laoag City, Ilocos Norte) is indicative of the tremendous goodwill PBA has in Philippine communities. It is a good check whether the PBA is on the right track."
"Second, the enthusiastic participation of our players, both past and present, demonstrates clearly the commitment of our players to embrace their responsibility as PBA ambassadors and role models to the youth."
"And third, I also felt the players are beginning to understand the intangible value of renewing personal ties with fellow players, connecting with the veterans and the precious legacy they've been handed and building on this legacy," he added.
Aside from the All-Star Game, the PBA introduced the Legends Game played last Friday that featured two teams - the Greats and the Stalwarts - with ex-pros leading the teams combined with some of the active players in the PBA.
The Greats with four-time PBA MVP Alvin Patrimonio, Ato Agustin, Jojo Lastimosa and Olsen Racela defeated the Stalwarts of Allan Caidic, Leo Isaac, Kenneth Duremdes and Johnny Abarrientos, 143-139. Agustin was named the game's MVP.
"More than the fun part, that's what the PBA All-Star is about. And on this basis, I think the All-Star Weekend was a success," said Salud, whose office has now listed three candidates as the next All-Star host, previous hosts Boracay and Cebu, as well as Tacloban.
After leading B-Meg to the Commissioner's Cup title with the Finals MVP plum, hotshot James Yap powered the Veteran All-Stars to a 176-144. He sizzled with 44 points with seven booming three-pointers to clinch another MVP award - his first in nine All-Star appearances.
In the Skills Events, Ginebra's Nino "KG" Canaleta bagged his fifth Slam Dunk title after winning it from 2005 to 2007 and also in 2010, while Mark Macapagal of Meralco and B-Meg's Jonas Villanueva won for the third straight time in the Three-Point Shootout and Obstacle Challenge.
The regular games of the PBA will resume Sunday with two matches at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City as Rain or Shine battles Alaska 4 p.m., while defending champion Petron Blaze takes on Powerade at 6:30 p.m.