LAOAG, Philippines – More than a decade since the last Veterans-RSJs (Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors) game was played, the PBA All-Star Game shifts back to that format, pitting tested warriors against talented youngsters in a fight for pride and bragging rights.
James Yap and Jayvee Casio issued the best statements on what their teams intend to do in the game set at 6 p.m. tonight at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena here.
"As the veterans, we'll not allow ourselves (to be) beaten," said Yap, on one hand.
"We'll prove that we can beat them," said Casio, on the other hand.
The Shooting Stars event and the much-awaited slam dunk contest serve as appetizer in the first Veterans-RSJs game in 11 years.
The Veterans and the RSJs have clashed eight times before with the oldies prevailing in all but two occasions.
Before suiting up for the Veterans in the All-Star Game, Gabe Norwood and Arwind Santos show their stuffs in the slam dunk competition together with Elmer Espiritu.
Four-time champion KG Canaleta is now a doubtful participant due to sore ankles. Japeth Aguilar, a champion dunker during his time at West Kentucky, is a no-show while JC Intal has begged off due to an injury.
Intal, however, may not pass up on his participation in the All-Star Game, also suiting up with the Veterans under coach Ryan Gregorio.
Completing the cast are Gary David, Sonny Thoss, Alex Cabagnot, LA Tenorio, Asi Taulava and Macmac Cardona.
Challenging the Veterans are Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Dylan Ababou, Josh Urbiztondo, Paul Lee, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rico Maierhofer, Mark Baracael, Mark Barroca and Chris Ross. Powerade coach Bo Perasol calls the shot for the team.
"Just like the other All-Stars, there's not much serious defense in the first three quarters. The fourth quarter is the real game for pride. My guys are the veterans and we'll not lack on that," said Gregorio.
"This is for the fans so we'll try to show all our skills. And of course we'll go out to win," said David.
"We'll make the Ilocano fans happy. And hopefully we also end up happy being the winner," said Santos.
"We're excited to put on the show. Hopefully, we teach them (the youngsters) something and they put in energy," said Norwood.
Perasol said they’re at a disadvantage with a small starting unit of Casio, Lassiter, Ababou, Urbiztondo and Lee, but they will still give it to the fans.
"They say we can shuffle the lineup after just a few seconds but I will not do that. That's disservice to the fans. They voted these guys as starters and we'll give it to them," said Perasol.