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PBA All-Star Game set tonight

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. – Shooting Stars
5:30 p.m. – Women’s 5-on-5
6:45 p.m. – North vs South

Manny Paquiao of Stalwarts tries to escape the defense of Greats during the exhibition game at Smart Araneta Coliseum, August 5, 2016 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)It’s going to be height versus speed when the South team battles the defending champion North today in the 27th edition of the PBA All-Star Game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Reigning two-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer will start as starting power forward for the South, teaming up with fellow 6-foot-10 center Asi Taulava of NLEX.

What it lacks in height, the North makes up for its deep backcourt in TNT Katropa’s Jayson Castro, Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee and Globalport’s dynamic duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle. Add to that list veteran guards Mark Caguioa of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and SMB’s Alex Cabagnot.

“Malaki nga sila, pero mababagal,” said Rain or Shine mentor Yeng Guiao who will handle the North.

“Uso naman ang small ball ngayon, e. But personally, sanay ako na maliit kami (especially with Rain or Shine), nananalo pa naman kami. So we’ll find a way to win,” added Guiao.

The All-Star game is set at 6:45 p.m., after the side events Shooting Stars at 5 p.m. and the first ever 5-on-5 women’s game set at 5:30 p.m.

Romeo, the MVP from last year’s All-Star Game in Palawan, will start for the South alongside Caguioa, Star’s Marc Pingris, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva and Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar.

Castro, Lee, Pringle and Cabagnot were selected as reserves together with ROS versatile forward Gabe Norwood, TNT’s Ranidel de Ocampo and rookie teammate Troy Rosario.

Taulava looks forward to playing with Fajardo.

“It’s going to be exciting playing with June Mar. It’s unfortunate Greg is still recovering, we’re supposed to have a ‘Triple Tower’… we’re fine with ‘Twin Tower for now,” said Taulava, the 14-time All-Star and the event’s MVP back in 2004 (co-winner with Jimmy Alapag) in 2006.

Aside from Taulava and Fajardo, the other North starters are Star ace shooter James Yap, Ginebra forward Joe Devance and rookie teammate Scottie Thompson.

The South squad coach Leo Austria also has 6-foot-6 Rain or Shine center JR Quiñahan in his roster, as well as guards Jeff Chan and Jericho Cruz of ROS, SMB’s Chris Ross, Star’s Mark Barroca and RR Garcia and Blackwater’s Carlo Lastimosa.

The North holds a 7-4 record over South in their head-to-head duel.

Prior to the game, one interesting battle will showcase the moves of the All-Star participants in the traditional ‘dance-off’ as the North and South teams will fight not only for the bragging rights but P150,000 cash prize.