I wanted to do a blog about undeserving PBA All-Star Participants.
But then I thought… that would be unfair.
For one thing, the PBA made the All-Star Weekend as a thank you to its fans. Sure, the league took the games to the provinces so it can draw more crowds… but I don’t blame them. Frankly speaking, the league gets more love in the provinces even if their base of operations is within the metro.
Every year, the league lets the fans choose their all-star bets regardless of stats and availability. Sure, it may be the PBA Office’s fault because they didn’t shortlist the names properly but the fans can be blamed as well for snubbing a player and inserting a seldom-used standout because said fan saw this player as cute with jacked up muscles… or he’s part of her favorite team… or he played for her school.
Get the picture?
And I guess this is why I don’t really consider all-star participations in the makeup of my top player lists. Unlike in the NBA, superstar snubs are much more common in the PBA. Only in this league can you find benchwarmers of limited statistical worth starting to the delight of the fans.
And with this… I have a plan.
The league is right in booking the event in the middle of the Commissioner’s Cup. More than their CC averages, voters need to consider their Philippine Cup stats. After all, the first conference is the only conference that doesn’t include imports.
However, the league is wrong to insert all players in their all-star balloting. How is Calvin Abueva in the same frame as Jam Cortes? No offense to Jam Cortes fans but… when was the last time GlobalPort Batang Pier used him?
And yeah, spoiler alert… this current Phoenix Fuel Master has never played for GlobalPort.
Then the league must submit 60 names. These names are selected in lieu of their Philippine Cup production. The league can also submit these names according to the quality or quantity of their performance. Kawhi Leonard posted averages of 16.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg, and 2.0spg in the 2017-18 NBA season but with just nine games, it’s hard to justify his presence. The same can be said on Greg Slaughter’s 2016-17 Mythical Team snub because even if he became the Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference, he still missed two conferences due to injury. Having the best players in the all-star game will give the festivity an impression of credibility. It’s a stretch to call a player an all-star if he averages under five points, less than two rebounds, and under one assist in less than 15 minutes of action.
From 60, the names will dwindle down to 24. Fans will be voting online or via arena. Players and coaches will vote through their respective locker rooms (or during practices) while the Press Corps and the PBA officials could vote between playdates.
The Philippine Cup champion coach and its finalist would mentor the players. However, much like Lebron James and Stephen Curry, the top two vote getters are going to choose their teammates. Basically, the champion coach gets the second-best vote getter while the runnerup coach gets the top all-star vote getter.
All is fair.
But wait, there’s more.
A schoolyard pick would commence. A TELEVISED schoolyard pick would start the all-star festivities. It can be held a week before the all-star weekend or even earlier to create backstories. How awesome it is to have June Mar Fajardo with Japeth Aguilar against Greg Slaughter and Arwind Santos? How about former allegiances imploding like Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle or JR Quinahan and Beau Belga.
Creating rivalries is a missing aspect in the current PBA scheme of things. Just because players are fighting one another doesn’t mean that they are worthy adversaries. It is also a great way to produce stars – especially for teams in need of stars. GlobalPort grew a semblance of fanbase with Romeo and Pringle while Rain or Shine had the Fire and Ice tandem of Gabe Norwood and Solomon Mercado. At the moment Blackwater has Mac Belo and probably Allein Maliksi, Phoenix has Matthew Wright and Jeff Chan, and Columbian has Rashawn McCarthy and Jerramy King. The sooner we give these players the much needed popularity uptick, there could be better ticket sales during their games.
Finally other than the Gilas Pilipinas exhibition games, they need the right format to make the all-star games work. I am glad that the league went away with the old Veterans versus RSJ matches because it restricts deserving vets to play in the all-star. With that said, the North versus South squads has its flaws as well. With this format, we hardly saw Eric Menk slugging it out with Asi Taulava. How can you milk their rivalry if you keep teaming the rivals up? There was also a time when the South ruled the North because they have more Fil-Ams in their lineup. I guess the all-star weekend could help Gilas Pilipinas train but… it’s not like this is the lineup that they would use against Asia and the world.
Unless they let Andray Blatche play and until the all-stars give the Gilas bets their full power, then it’s just a regular all-star match.
Pitting Gilas between the North and South squads are either two things.
It can be the “ones who are good enough to represent the country in international meets against the ones that are only great in the PBA” or those that “truly deserve to play in the all-star against the ones who made it because of their loyal fanbase”.
Perhaps they can ask Gilas Pilipinas to take on Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, Henry Walker, and all of the imports in contention?
Do you agree with this Philippine sports blogger’s fantasy booking? What other set of rules or scenario do you want to add?