It would be interesting to see how the PBA’s new format for the 2023 All-Star Game will turn out, given that the fans have been given the power to choose ALL the players they would want to see take part in the midseason spectacle.
For a refresher, the league has adopted a selection process similar to what the NBA has been doing for its ASG since 2018, but with a twist. The public will vote for 24 players, with the top two vote-getters to be named as captains.
And those captains will then choose who would comprise their respective 12-man teams through a draft, whose date will be announced very soon.
It is far from what the PBA had done in the past where only the starters are voted in. Some have reservations about it, with some saying that others could be at a disadvantage against players part of ball clubs with bigger fanbases.
While it could be true, the All-Star festivities, at the end of the day, are for the fans, undeniably the lifeline of the league. Still, we hope that the voters can also consider those deserving to be up there among the league’s brightest.
There’s actually plenty we believe have earned the nod based hugely on how they have been performing this season. So, here are the players Tiebreaker Times wishes to see in Passi, Iloilo for the 31st PBA All-Star Game.
No Cap divided its picks into two halves — the first 12 of which we think should be surefire All-Stars, while the other are those who have built strong cases. It will be a long read ahead, but it’s just us doing our best to justify our selections.
12 SUREFIRE PICKS
JUNE MAR FAJARDO, San Miguel Beermen
Need we say more? June Mar Fajardo has fully regained the form that made him the league’s only six-time MVP, and San Miguel benefitted the most as the club saw its return atop the Philippine Cup big thanks to him.
Finals MVP of that series versus TNT, the Cebuano star also won Best Player of the Conference honors with averages of 18.7 points and a tournament-best 14.2 rebounds, giving him the ninth BPC award of his career.
The 33-year-old Fajardo remains on the forefront of the MVP stats race with 28.9 statistical points (SPs) after the Commissioner’s Cup, where he posted per-game norms of 18.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 blocks.
SCOTTIE THOMPSON, Barangay Ginebra
Of course, the All-Star wouldn’t be complete without the reigning MVP. But it’s not only because of that fact that Scottie Thompson should be there.
The Barangay Ginebra star continues his fine play this season, so much so that he helped the Kings reclaim the Commissioner’s Cup after five years at the expense of guest team Bay Area in arguably their biggest test to date.
It was a conference to remember for the Davao-native as he was named BPC with norms of 12.1 points, 7.1 boards, 5.5 dimes, and 2.0 steals.
And those were enough to bring him to no. 2 in the MVP race just behind the ‘Kraken.’ Potential All-Star captains? They should if you ask us.
CJ PEREZ, San Miguel Beermen
Not only is he one of the most consistent cogs of San Miguel, but CJ Perez has been playing so well that he contended for both BPC awards this season — and is running third in the MVP stats race with 24.6 SPs.
One of his best conferences happened in the 2022 Philippine Cup, where he averaged 18.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists to help the Beermen regain the Perpetual trophy — and win his first-ever PBA title.
JAYSON CASTRO, TNT Tropang Giga
Even at this stage of his career, Jayson Castro continues to be the stabilizing presence TNT relies on whenever the going gets tough.
Proof of that was the 2022 Philippine Cup Finals. Though the Tropang Giga fell short of defending the crown, the 36-year-old led his side’s gallant stand in Game 7, which saw him tally 32 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
For the entire conference, the seven-time champ averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and a steal in 24 games — 21 coming off the bench.
DON TROLLANO, NLEX Road Warriors
Not even a coaching change three months into Season 47 has distracted Don Trollano from emerging as NLEX’s best forward.
The 31-year-old is in the midst of easily his best season as a pro, which saw him up the ante come the Commissioner’s Cup he was among the five finalists in the BPC race ultimately won by batchmate Thompson.
From averaging 16.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in the Philippine Cup, Trollano hiked his numbers to 17.7 markers on an impressive 46.5-percent shooting clip from beyond the arc and 6.2 boards in the mid-season conference.
JUAMI TIONGSON, Terrafirma Dyip
Juami Tiongson has long been Terrafirma’s lead floor general and he continues to prove as much this season, serving as one of the few bright spots for a team still looking to get over the hump despite setbacks — injuries in particular.
The Season 46 Most Improved Player averaged 14.3 points in the Philippine Cup and went on to turn it up a bit come the Commissioner’s Cup, tallying 16.7 points on 47.1-percent shooting, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.
Just last January 28, Tiongson fired 30 points — a point shy of his career-high — to help the Dyip stun Meralco, 96-88, for win no. 1 in the Governors’ Cup.
ARVIN TOLENTINO, NorthPort Batang Pier
Arvin Tolentino was plug-and-play personified as he wasted no time finding his niche with NorthPort after being traded by Barangay Ginebra.
The three-year pro shined in his first game with the Batang Pier with 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two assists, and four blocks in a 92-89 win over Phoenix for a successful Commissioner’s Cup debut.
And that outing proved to be a sneak peek of what was to come. In the same tilt, Tolentino registered a career-high 31 points and 12 rebounds in a 91-85 victory over Terrafirma — just a week after his 27th birthday.
He ended the conference with 16.4 points on 37.6-percent three-point shooting, alongside 6,1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks, making a case as one of the league’s best young forwards today.
LA TENORIO, Barangay Ginebra
It’s no secret that LA Tenorio’s minutes are being managed to save him up for the playoffs and that’s a move Barangay Ginebra doesn’t regret.
That’s because Coach Tim Cone knows what he’s getting from a fresh ‘Gineral’ when the stakes are higher, and proof of that was their Commissioner’s Cup title run where the 38-year-old contributed significantly.
From averaging just above four points in the eliminations, Tenorio would post 11.1 points in the playoffs in a stretch that also saw him replace two-time MVP James Yap at no. 3 in the PBA’s all-time three-pointers made list.
And just a reminder: Tenorio is the fifth player to notch a triple-double in an All-Star Game as he finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists in the 2019 ASG in Calasiao, Pangasinan, where his North beat South, 185-170.
ROGER POGOY, TNT Tropang Giga
Roger Pogoy was the best scorer of the Philippine Cup with 18.9 points a game, another evidence why he’s one of the top gunners in the country today.
It should go down as one of his best conferences to date, too. He scored 30 points thrice — he fired 32 against Blackwater, produced 30 against Barangay Ginebra, and then 31 against San Miguel in Game 6 of the Finals.
Pogoy would carry over his fine play in the Commissioner’s Cup. There, he averaged 17.6 points, including a 32-point outing versus NorthPort.
JAPETH AGUILAR, Barangay Ginebra
Japeth Aguilar had a down Commissioner’s Cup, sure, but we should not forget how remarkable he was during the season-opening Philippine Cup,
The 36-year-old averaged 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a contest in the conference, where he was in the top five of the BPC race early before bowing out of contention following the Kings’ quarterfinal loss to Meralco.
And we’d definitely love to see him in the All-Star for the highlights, too, just like what he did in Calasiao where he turned the ASG to a dunkfest, eventually netting co-MVP honors with Kabalen Arwind Santos.
CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER, Barangay Ginebra
It’s not easy guarding imports yet Christian Standhardinger showed that it’s actually doable — while being effective on the other end as well.
And those are the reasons why he was adjudged the Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP, for he defended Andrew Nicholson in the series but still contributed 10.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals.
But it shouldn’t be forgotten, too, how solid he was for the Barangay in the Philippine Cup. There, he averaged 14.2 points on 49.7-percent shooting and 9.5 rebounds, together with 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals per outing.
MIKEY WILLIAMS, TNT Tropang Giga
We can’t just leave out one of the league’s best scorers today. Mikey Williams introduced himself as a certified bucket-getter when he arrived in the league back in 2021, and never fails to prove as much this season.
The reigning scoring king was just behind Pogoy in the Philippine Cup leading scorers with 18.8 points, including a 31-point outing versus Terrafirma.
Injuries have affected his play — still averaged 16.8 points in the Commissioner’s Cup, though — but he’s slowly getting back his form.
Last January 27, he starred in TNT’s 105-100 come-from-behind win over Rain or Shine, finishing with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists for their second win in as many games in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
12 STRONG CASES
MAVERICK AHANMISI, Converge FiberXers
This season saw Maverick Ahanmisi become the primary closer for Converge — even with the coaching switch from Jeff Cariaso to Aldin Ayo.
He’s also in the midst of undoubtedly his best season as a pro as he averaged above 10 points in both the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup, helping the FiberXers reach the quarterfinals of both conferences.
Currently, he’s averaging 18.5 points on 46.4-percent shooting in the Governors’ Cup, where they are among the leaders with a 4-0 card.
BASER AMER, Blackwater Bossing
Say what you want about his ‘Night, Night’ celebrations but Baser Amer earned the right to do those after putting some teams to sleep — including his old team.
His endgame exploits early in the season is also proof of his resurgence with Blackwater, especially in the Commissioner’s Cup where he averaged a career-best 18.4 points before unfortunately going down with a calf injury.
Through four games in the Governors’ Cup, the San Beda great is averaging 12.0 points, including 17 in their win versus Phoenix Super LPG.
JAMIE MALONZO, Barangay Ginebra
Jamie Malonzo is just in his sophomore year yet the uber-athletic winger has already become a consistent contender for BPC awards.
The Philippine Cup saw the 26-year-old post 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks but NorthPort’s failure to reach the playoffs hurt his chances, though he still ended up at the Top 10 after the quarters.
His numbers dipped in the Commissioner’s Cup (12.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 steals) but to do all that in just his first conference with a team as stacked as Ginebra — and help ’em to the chip — merits an All-Star nod.
KEVIN ALAS, NLEX Road Warriors
Kevin Alas has been NLEX’s main man for years now and this season further proves as much, most especially in the Philippine Cup that saw him finish among the conference’s top 10 scorers with 17.5 points.
He also served as the rock while the MVP club was in the midst of a transition following the switch from Yeng Guiao to Frankie Lim in the Commissioner’s Cup, putting up 14.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.
And, oh, Alas has two 30-point outings this season, too, the most recent of which was just last January 25. He dropped 31 to help the Road Warriors to a 124-102 rout of Blackwater to open their Governors’ Cup campaign.
YOUSEF TAHA, Blackwater Bossing
Yousef Taha has already made a total of seven stops before entering his 10th season in the league, but it looks like he’s found a home in Blackwater.
And you have to give credit to coach Ariel Vanguardia for that, especially for utilizing the 6-foot-8 big man’s passing skills — he averaged 3.5 assists in the Philippine Cup, to go with 7.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks.
His Commissioner’s Cup was a bit of a downer but the Governors’ Cup appears promising for the 34-year-old pro out of Mapua. Through three matches, Taha is averaging 10.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
AARON BLACK, Meralco Bolts
If there’s one game that established Aaron Black as one of the top young guards of today, it should be Game 6 of the Philippine Cup semis.
With Meralco in a win-or-go-home situation, the 26-year-old put the team on his back down the stretch, scoring the Bolts’ last 11 points to beat San Miguel, 96-92, and force the series to a Game 7. He finished with 17 points.
The MVP ball club ultimately bowed to the eventual champs but that didn’t take away how fine his play was in the conference, where he averaged a career-high 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 20 games.
Impressive as well was his performance in the Commissioner’s Cup, serving as one of the silver linings of a tough campaign for Meralco as he put up 13.6 markers, 5.8 boards, and 4.4 dimes across 12 appearances.
MARK BARROCA, Magnolia Hotshots
Mark Barroca remains one of, if not the, most important piece in Magnolia as the 36-year-old continues to be a picture of consistency for his side.
He played big roles in the Hotshots’ two semis trips this season, and still did during the semis itself just like in the Philippine Cup against TNT where he picked up the scoring cudgels at a time Paul Lee was far from the usual.
Barroca, now in his 11th season in the league, averaged 12.7 points in the said conference, which included six 20-point performances.
CALVIN OFTANA, TNT Tropang Giga
Calvin Oftana was indeed one of the most consistent players of the Philippine Cup with 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals, establishing himself as one of the league’s top young wingers — in only his second year.
His best showing of that conference saw him erupt for 32 points in Game 3 of their quarterfinal clash versus Magnolia — yes, in a playoff game — though his efforts to tow his side to the next round fell short as they bowed.
That also proved to be his last game with the club as he was traded to TNT prior to the Commissioner’s Cup. And although it was a period of adjustment, Oftana still ended up with 10.2 points, 5.5 boards, 1.5 dimes, and 1.1 steals.
JERON TENG, Converge FiberXers
It was already given that Jeron Teng would be the face of Converge when he was among those retained by the new ball club from Alaska, and it showed in the FiberXers’ maiden conference that was the 2022 Philippine Cup.
The La Salle legend led the team with 14.6 points until going down with a hip injury, but would find redemption in the Commissioner’s Cup as he helped steer his crew to the quarters with 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.
It’s worth noting, too, his shooting improvement. From 37-percent in the first conference, Teng shot 46.6-percent in the following tourney, and is currently making 52.1-percent of his field goals in the Governors’ Cup.
It definitely helps when your coach knows you extremely well.
JIO JALALON, Magnolia Hotshots
Magnolia has always been one of the league’s best defensive teams since Chito Victolero took over in 2016 and a big part of what they do is Jio Jalalon.
In the Commissioner’s Cup alone, the two-way guard finished as the tourney’s steals leader with 2.2 a game, topping a list crowded by imports such as Quincy Miller, Nick Rakocevic, and Justin Brownlee, to name a few.
Not only does he make a mark on defense but Jalalon is reliable on the other end, too. In fact, he averaged above 11 points in the first two conferences, but hiked his shooting percentage to 46.7 in the mid-season joust.
CHRIS NEWSOME, Meralco Bolts
It was tough to see Chris Newsome miss almost the entire Commissioner’s Cup due to calf injuries especially after another notable Philippine Cup.
The Bolts’ main man continued to embrace his role, averaging 16.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists as he helped steer his side to their second straight all-Filipino semis trip, and fifth consecutive overall.
Newsome also contended for the BPC plum. He jumped to no. 8 after the quarters, where they finally beat rivals Ginebra in a playoff series.
MARCIO LASSITER, San Miguel Beermen
The ‘Death Five’ may just be a thing of the past now but San Miguel retained one of its members in Marcio Lassiter, and for good reason.
Because after all these years, he remains the Beermen’s most reliable sniper. Remember he went 6-of-7 from deep for 22 points to help his side drag TNT to a Game 7 in the Philippine Cup Finals, and we all know how it ended.
Lassiter went on to finish the conference with norms of 12.7 points on 39-percent accuracy from beyond the arc — a percentage that went up to 47.4 in the Commissioner’s Cup, where he put up 11.1 points per contest.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.