AFTER A successful debut last season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will again hold its All-Star Game on August 21, 2015 (Friday) at the San Juan Arena starting at 2:00 PM. The day’s festivities will also see the players showcasing their individual skills in dunking and three-point shooting while 10 coeds will vie for the title of Miss NCAA.
The East All-Stars will go all out to repeat their 104-97 conquest of the West All-Stars. Expected to carry the load for the East will be returnees led by reigning Most Valuable Player Earl Scottie Thompson of University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta, Art de la Cruz of San Beda College, Bernabe Teodoro of Jose Rizal University and Bradwyn Guinto San Sebastian College.
Thompson, who has several triple-doubles to his name this year, remains a doubtful starter due to recurring injuries. Completing the East roster to be coached by Arellano University’s Jerry Codinera are his own players Jiovani Jalalon, Zach Nicholls and Kent Salado, Razak Abdulwahab and Jordan de la Paz of JRU, Michole Sorela and Ryusei Koga of SBC, Jamil Ortuoste and Michael Calisaan of SSC and Bright Akhuetie and Gab Dagangon of UPHSD.
The West will have nothing but payback in mind as they will be bannered by two-time All-Stars Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac from surprise league leader Letran College. Lyceum of the Philippines University big man Joseph Gabayni will also play in the midseason game for the second year in a row.
The rest of the West will be made up of LPU’s Wilson Baltazar and Jebb Bulawan, Alfonso Saavedra, Jonathan Grey and JR Ongteco of College of Saint Benilde, Francis Munsayac, Fernan Mejos and Sidney Onwubere of Emilio Aguinaldo College and JP Nieles, Allwell Oraeme and Justin Serrano of season host Mapua Institute of Technology. Letran’s Aldin Ayo will coach the West.
The side events are expected to be just as entertaining and exciting as the main game. Defending champion Travis Jonson of CSB will stake his three-point shooting crown against equally able marksmen Cruz of Letran, Baltazar of LPU, Kenneth Zamora of Arellano, Jozhua General of EAC, Paolo Pontejos of JRU, Exe Biteng of MIT, AC Soberano of SBC, Ryan Costelo of SSC and Gerald Dizon of UPHSD.
SBC’s Arnaud Noah will not be around to defend his dunk title with Sorela taking his spot. Taking a cue from Noah’s appearance last season, CSB is fielding a reserve player in Yankie Haruna.
The Slam Dunk contest is shaping up as a duel between the NCAA’s exchange students and Filipino flyers. Oraeme of MIT, Dioncee Holts of Arellano, Laminou Hamadou of EAC and Prince Eze of UPHSD will try to outstage Sorela, Haruna, Bulawan of LPU, Rey Publico of Letran, Kim Aurin of JRU and Allyn Bulanadi of SSC.
Meanwhile, Miss NCAA will be proclaimed in simple rites. Unlike last year wherein a full-blown pageant was held before the All-Star Game, social media voting played a big role in the selection of the winner.
Vying for Miss NCAA are Zahara Soriano (AU), Sharae Banay-Banay (CSJL), Reissa Ileto (CSB), Ramon Theresita Lacson (EAC), Allanis Reign Binoya (JRU), Rycca Timog (LPU), Katrina Redshaw (MIT), Arianna Villaluna (SBC), Maryce Veluz (SSC) and Lyra Velchez (UPHSD). The reigning Miss NCAA is Jian Salazar of UPHSD.
Friday’s game is expected to have extra meaning to the players who are on their final season of varsity eligibility before they embark on taking their game to the next level. Last year’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, John Nard Pinto of Arellano, who eventually made it to the professional league.