FOR several years now, fans of James Yap and Mark Caguioa have been debating who between the two superstars is the most popular player in the PBA.
But based on the partial results of the 2013 PBA All-Star balloting, Yap seemed to be way ahead of his rival.
The sweet-shooting San Mig Coffee forward has pulled away by more than 5,000 votes from the talismanic Ginebra star in the balloting for the starters of the PBA Selection that will take on Gilas Pilipinas during the league's All-Star Week in May.
As of 4 p.m. on Friday, Yap has already 19,085 online votes to pace the race for the two guard spots in the starting roster of the PBA selection. Caguioa is in second but is far behind with 13,475 votes.
The tally has yet to include votes cast in the league's playing venues, which officials said will be released next week. The balloting started last February 17 and will end on March 24.
Caguioa even lags behind sensational Alaska Milk rookie Calvin Abueva, who leads the online poll for the three forward spots in the team with 16,957 votes.
Petron pair Arwind Santos (15,887) and Jay Washington (14,743) also have higher votes so far than Caguioa.
Aside from Yap and Caguioa, also making it to the Top Five in the race for the guard spots are Alaska high-flyer Cyrus Baguio (11,467), San Mig's Peter June Simon (9,117), and Alaska guard JV Casio (7,431).
This early, no less than four Mixers are in the Top Five of the two categories, with Joe Devance (13,478) and
Rafi Reavis (11,577) running fourth and fifth among the forwards.
An earlier plan to do a separate poll for the starters of Gilas during the All-Star Week set from May 1-6 in Digos, Davao Del Sur has been scrapped, leaving national coach Chot Reyes to make the selections.
Fans can cast their votes in designated booths at the venue or through the league’s official website, pba.ph.