CALASIAO, Pangasinan – Former MVPs Asi Taulava and Mark Caguioa are both late inclusions in this year’s PBA All-Star game.
Caguioa will be suiting up as reserve for the North selection, while Taulava with play the same role for the South squad.
So why the last-minute inclusion of the two?
Both are coming in as replacements for the injured Joe Devance and Mark Pingris. Devance is suffering from a plantar fasciitis injury in his right foot, while Pingris has yet to recover from an ACL injury suffered last season.
Pingris, though, has not been stricken from the North roster as the 37-year-old veteran is considered an ‘ambassador’ of the team, being a native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan.
Reserves of both teams are voted by the 12 PBA coaches, who however are prohibited from voting for their own players. Only the five starters for both sides are voted in by the fans.
That Pingris was voted in by the coaches is quite interesting, considering the Magnolia veteran has yet to play a single game since the semifinals of last year’s Philippine Cup.
The choice for replacements is also odd. Caguioa has been fielded in in just three of Ginebra's 10 games this season, for a grand total of 30 minutes.
Taulava got the call from NLEX coach Yeng Guiao in six of their 10 games, averaging 2.17 points and 3.7 rebounds. That proved enough to make him a replacement and a ticket to a record 17th All-Star appearance.
However, the league explained that Taulava and Caguioa got the All-Star call-up since they got the most number of votes from coaches among those who failed to make the original roster.
Starting for the North side are Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Paul Lee, and Marcio Lassiter.
Meanwhile, the South team’s starting five is composed of James Yap, June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, and Mark Barroca.