EXACTLY eight years ago today, the brightest stars of the PBA brought their stuff in Digos City, Davao del Sur in an All-Star Week to remember ending in a night where former collegiate teammates and pals Arwind Santos and Jeff Chan shared the top individual award.
Santos scattered a game-high 27 points for the PBA All Star in a hot, hot shooting night.
Chan, meanwhile, made only nine markers for Gilas Pilipinas but it included a booming trey in the dying seconds that forged a 124-all deadlock in one of the most exciting PBA All-Star Game ever seen.
During the All-Star Friday, Chris Tiu then of Rain or Shine, Chris Ellis of Barangay Ginebra and Jonas Villanueva of Barako Bull took the spotlight as winners of the Three-Point Shootout, Slam Dunk and Obstacle Challenge, respectively.
In the same evening, Kenneth Duremdes wowed his fellow Mindanaoans, bringing the time back in a 19-point showing as Team Stalwarts beat Team Greats, 112-105, in another side event to the much-anticipated Gilas-PBA All Stars tiff.
Then Gilas naturalized player Marcus Douthit sat out the game, and the Nationals flirted with disaster before being saved by Chan's three-pointer with six-tenths of a second left.
The PBA featured Gilas in the 2013 All Stars to help them in their buildup for the FIBA Asia Cup where they did well to book a ticket to the FIBA World Cup the following year in Spain.
Non-Gilas player Santos dished out an inspired game, sizzling with game-highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds and shared MVP honors with Chan who collected nine points, six rebounds and six assists in a performance punctuated by his game-tying shot.
It was the first All-Star Game that ended in a stalemate. In Bacolod in 2008, the North-South battled to a tie at the end of regulation, but the crowd and the protagonists prevailed on league officials to hold overtime play. South eventually prevailed, 163-158, with PJ Simon winning the MVP trophy.
Gary David, Larry Fonacier, Marc Pingris, LA Tenorio and Sonny Thoss had their contribution as the Nationals fought back from an 11-point deficit to the delight of the predominantly Gilas crowd in the sell-out playing venue.
It had appeared as a won ball game for the PBA stars as Beau Belga canned in two charities giving them a 120-114 lead with 1:14 left.
But Chan and David banged away a triple each and Jason Castro buried two foul shots in a strong Gilas windup forging the tie.
"That's been the characteristic of this team from our Jones Cup championship. It doesn't give up. Somehow, we've built resoluteness," said Chot Reyes, the Gilas coach then. (SB)