Nationals face toughest test

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Nationals face toughest test


Games Sunday (Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. – Skills Competition
7 p.m. – All-Star Team vs PowerAde Team Pilipinas

Davao City – While its first game with the North All-Star was a “walk in the park” and its encounter with the South All-Star was a learning experience, national coach Yeng Guiao expects PowerAde Team Pilipinas’ final match with the PBA All-Stars to be their toughest test.

The Nationals battle the joint starting fives of both the All-Star teams reinforced by four imports in the Motolite-PBA All-Star Week series today at the Araneta Coliseum.

Guiao’s team, which clobbered the North team, 98-80, on Wednesday in Victorias, Negros Occidental, and edged the South squad, 103-99, on Friday here, takes on the All-Stars at 7 p.m., right after the Skills Competition event featuring the Obstacle Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk contest at 4 p.m.

“We expect that game (against the PBA All-Stars) to be our toughest job,” Guiao said. “By this time they already know how to play us so this will really test us.”

This year’s edition of the All-Star, which deviates from its traditional format of North versus South exhibition game to help Guiao’s RP team preparation, is also supported by PowerAde, Coca-Cola, Nike, Accel and Phoenix Fuels.

The Philippine Team will face an All-Star that include former national players Eric Menk, Dondon Hontiveros and Jimmy Alapag, who were part of the last all-pro team that finished ninth in the FIBA-Asia champion two years ago.

That said RP squad was mentored by Chot Reyes, who coached the North team and will call the shots for the All-Stars.

Also in the All-Stars are South’s Jay Washington and Dorian Pena, as well as North’s Marc Jean Pingris, Mac-Mac Cardona, Enrico Villanueva and Paul Artadi, with reinforcements Gabe Freeman of San Miguel, Anthony Johnson of Sta. Lucia, Rain or Shine’s Jai Lewis and Ginebra’s David Noel.

“That’s a tough team to face, with the starting five of the North and South backed by four imports, malakas yun. Although they can play two imports at a time, malakas pa din pag nag-palitan,” Guiao said.

Forward Kelly Williams will not play and will also skip the Slam Dunk competition where he is the defending champion because of dehydration, while Guiao, due to injuries, is also expected to rest guard Ryan Reyes (sprained ankle) and big man Sonny Thoss (tendinitis).

Left to carry the fight for the Nationals are team captain Asi Taulava, Willie Miller, James Yap, Kerby Raymundo, Cyrus Baguio, Jayjay Helterbrand, Gabe Norwood, Jared Dillinger, Ranidel de Ocampo, Mick Pennisi and Arwind Santos.

Pennisi, who had 16 points with five three-pointers, was named the MVP in the Visayas-leg of the all-star week on Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

Dillinger, who collected 12 points with three rebounds and the same number of assists, won the award in the Mindanao-leg in Panabo City here.

Both received P20, 000 each, while the nationals pocketed P75, 000 each in their two victories. The MVP and the winning team will receive the same amount in today’s game.

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