PASSI CITY – Team Greats outgunned Team Stalwarts in a fiery shootout, 158-138, to conquer the Rookie-Sophomores-Juniors Game of the 2023 PBA All-Star Weekend, Friday evening at the City of Passi Arena here.
Adrian Wong was bestowed with Most Valuable Player honors after unloading 29 points and 10 rebounds in a performance best known for the bevy of 4-point shots he made that proved contagious as others made their own as well.
The Magnolia winger was the first to make the 27-foot jumper to give his side a 22-17 lead about three minutes into the game, setting the tone for the wild exchange between the young hoopers that left the crowd in awe.
He was also responsible for finishing the game emphatically, doing so with a jam off his own pass that counted as three points — the league implemented a 3-point dunk and a 4-pointer for this year’s RSJ and All-Star Game.
“It feels amazing,” said Wong. “Just knowing that both teams came out to compete. We’re the top rising competitors in the league right now. I’m just happy that we both came out to compete and we got the W today.”
Top-scoring for the Greats was Javi Gomez de Liano as the Terrafirma forward finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Blackwater’s Ato Ular came through with a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds while fellow rook Justin Arana of Converge had 23 as well.
Aaron Black supplied 18 points and five assists, as Rain or Shine’s Andrei Caracut and Bossing guard RK ilagan added 11 and 10, respectively, for the Greats mentored by Ginebra lead deputy Richard del Rosario.
The Greats outscored the Stalwarts, 54-41, in the fourth quarter, withstanding their foes’ furious rally led by Encho Serrano and Joshua Munzon.
Serrano of Phoenix Super LPG finished with a game-high 40 points, 33 of which he made in the second half in an attempt to will his team back.
“Hindi ko naman inisip na All-Star, inisip ko pa rin na regular game ‘yun, so makikipag-compete pa rin,” Serrano said.
Munzon ended up with 32 points. Fellow top pick Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser made 21 points while dunk contest runner-up Tyrus Hill added 10.
Greats 158 — Gomez de Liano 30, Wong 29, Arana 23, Ular 23, Black 18, Caracut 11, Ilagan 10, Ahanmisi 8, Bulanadi 4, Balanza 2.
Stalwarts 138 — Serrano 40, Munzon 32, Ganuelas-Rosser 21, Hill 10, Nieto 8, Salado 8, Ildefonso 6, Dionisio 6, Asistio 5, Tio 2.
Quarterscores: 32-39, 65-63, 104-97, 158-138.