Cabagnot shines the most; North repeats win over South in 2016 PBA All-Star game

MANILA, Philippines - The fun-filled 2016 PBA All-Star weekend event ended up with a bang with Coach Yeng Guiao and his team North winning the annual event against Coach Leo Austria’s South squad, 154 - 151 on Sunday, August 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

North beats South anew in PBA All-Star Game
North beats South anew in PBA All-Star Game
The much awaited North vs. South PBA All-Stars started with the traditional dance-off battle between the two squads. The North team danced to the tune of Filipino nursery rhyme “tatlong bibe” remix headed by veteran Ginebra guard Mark Caguioa. While the South group led by the comical Joe Devance did the “trumpet” and “running man” dance crazes that helped them bagged the Php150,000 grand prize.

The North stars won the tip-in and Mark Caguioa quickly took a perimeter jumper. Joe Devance hit an early triple for the South squad but Gabe Norwood, who was a last minute replacement for starter Calvin Abueva who’s nursing a flu in a hospital, sank his own trey to give North its first lead of the ball game.

Aside from the dance-off, the free-willing dunks of high-calibered players are being watched out by the fans. For this year, it was Gabe Norwood who made the first alley oop dunk from Terrence Romeo. South boys had their own highlight in the opening quarter courtesy of big man June Mar Fajardo who stole the ball from Caguioa with matching behind the back dribble and coast-to-coast basket.

Surprisingly, rookie TNT forward Troy Rosario made his first ever All-Star appearance. The former NU stalwart has improved a lot after his tenure with Gilas Pilipinas. Rosario, showed his well-refined three point shooting arsenal along with a two-handed jam for the 40 - 29 convincing lead.

Rain Or Shine gunner, Jeff Chan closed the opening period with a reverse layup and trimmed North’s double-digit lead to just 9, 42-33.

Five-foot wonder and another first time All Star, Carlo Lastimosa announced his entry with an un-contested scoop in. While the best point guard in Asia and TNT main man Jason Castro hit a long one from the outside to increase North’s advantage.

With plenty of time remaining in the first half, team North had already reached the half-century mark. Few seconds after it, South posted their 51st point from Lastimosa.

For the third time, Troy Rosario flew up high and imitated Dominique Wilkins’ signature reverse slamma jamma.

With under a minute remaining in the half, the South squad found themselves behind by just 5 slim margin courtesy of RR Garcia. After 24 minutes of fast-paced basketball action, Coach Yeng Guiao’s gang, team North, was ahead by 2 shots, 79-73.

43 year-old center Asi Taulava, who had played his 14th All Star game, got widely opened underneath the basket for an easy two. While Japeth Aguilar, finally got away for a three-in-a-row two-handed dunks.

James Yap tied the ball game 90 all with his floater in the middle. Jericho Cruz made layup and gave the South its first lead after 3-2.

Aguilar, who was dormant in the first 24 minutes of the game, came alive in the 2nd half. After shaking the backboard with multiple slam dunks, he blocked Asi Taulava’s shot and converted it to a triple to bring the lead back to North.

Midway of the third, both teams had already achieved the hundred points.

San Miguel’s Fajardo, earlier said in an interview that he will play point guard and drain three pointers at the All Star. His coach, Leo Austria who happened to spearhead the South squad, permitted his ward to play whatever position that he wants in this event. True to his word, June Mar made his first ever three during the dying seconds of the penultimate quarter.

Terrence Romeo who sported his cornrows hairdo exhibited his inner “Allen Iverson” persona with mad-skilled dribbles, fancy euro steps and almost perfect three point shootings. Romeo, who won the MVP award last year in Puerto Princesa, Palawan tried to duplicate his feat here in Manila.

June Mar Fajardo leveled the game for the 4th time in this game with a short hook. With 6 more minutes remaining, the ball game was tied 134 all. However, Northern stars just momentarily gave the lead to their rivals but took it back after few seconds.

In the 2-minute warning, team North was up by 9 again, 152 - 143.

This All Star event was actually meant to entertain the fans and for the players to enjoy it. But “The Kraken”, June Mar Fajardo, took it too seriously and scored 8 fast points to cut the lead down to just a point, 152 - 151.

Troy Rosario tipped in a missed shot to add 2 more points to their half-shot lead with 5 ticks remaining in the clock.

Coach Austria regrouped his troops to give some final instructions to his boys. South was left with no option but to take a long shot to equalize the ball game. The play was designed for reliable shooter Jeff Chan but widely missed it and formally handed the 154 - 151 victory over to team North.

Everyone was expecting Troy Rosario or Terrence Romeo to win this year’s MVP award. But it was San MIguel Beerman Alex Cabagnot who had a silent 29 points who copped the prestigious trophy.

The scores:

North All-Stars 154 - Cabagnot 29, Romeo 25, Aguilar 21, Rosario 21, Pingris 16, De Ocampo 13, Caguioa 9, Castro 8, Norwood 7, Pringle 3, Lee 2

South All-Stars 151 - Fajardo 25, Garcia 22, Lastimosa 21, Cruz 20, Devance 17, Yap 13, Chan 12, Barroca 11, Taulava 4, Quinahan 2, Ross 2, Thompson 2.

Quarters: 42-33, 79-73, 117-115, 154-151

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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