By Jerome Lagunzad
(Batangas City Coliseum)
4 p.m. – All-Star Side Events
7 p.m. – Smart All-Stars vs North All Stars
Reigning four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo will go up against San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria and other Beermen standouts tonight as Smart All-Stars try to bounce back against North All-Stars in the resumption of the 2018 PBA All-Star Extravaganza at the Batangas City Coliseum.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, considered as the heart and soul of SMB’s sustained dominance for the past few years, will serve as the main anchor of the Smart All-Stars side raring to bounce back from a 144-130 defeat to Mindanao All-Stars at the Davao del Sur Sports Center last Wednesday night.
However, the Cebuano giant has to get the job done without the usual help from Austria, a three-time PBA Coach of the Year who will have old reliables Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot at his disposal in the 7 p.m. showpiece.
Backing them up are TNT’s Jayson Castro, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang of Magnolia, GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle, Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine and Phoenix’s Matthew Wright.
Out to provide support to the Nationals crew gearing up for the third window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers are Carl Bryan Cruz, Troy Rosario, Mac Belo, Allein Maliksi, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, Jio Jalalon and Kiefer Ravena.
Spicing up the second leg of the main match is the traditional dance-off among the protagonists. The Mindanao Selection, sporting Minnie Mouse headbands, outshone the Smart All-Stars the last time out and took home R100,000 in cash.
The Batangas All-Star spectacle gets going at 4 p.m. with the staging of the keenly-awaited Obstacle Challenge, the three-point shootout and the slam-dunk competition.
One-time league MVP winner Asi Taulava leads the big men testing their mettle in the Obstacle Challenge which also has Sonny Thoss, Raymond Aguilar, JP Erram, Kelly Nabong, Russell Escoto, Ken Bono, Justin Chua, Aldrech Ramos, Beau Belga, Gabby Espinas and Yousef Taha as participants.
Meanwhile, reigning Three-Point Shootout champion Allein Maliksi of Blackwater will have his hands full in defending his crown in one of the highlight events in this mid-season festivities presented by Phoenix Fuel with Phoenix Pulse Technology and backed by Peak Sports Apparel, Molten, PBA Rush-Cignal, Nature’s Spring, TAGHeuer, Gatorade, and Rain or Shine.