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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Fajardo to lead Visayas All-Stars vs nationals

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INSTEAD of having June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, and Kiefer Ravena around, the Philippine men’s team gets to experience what it likes going up against its fellow national pool teammates.

Fajardo, Ravena, and Romeo will be on the other side of the fence when the national squad goes up against the Visayas selection during the final phase of the three-stage PBA All-Star game on May 27 in Iloilo City.

Both Ravena and Fajardo played big for the national team in the first two windows of the ongoing FIBA World Cup qualifiers. A nagging knee injury, however, prevented Romeo from suiting up in the tournament.  

The three have been voted starters for the All-Star unit to be coached by Magnolia’s Chito Victolero, along with Barangay Ginebra big man Greg Slaughter and Rain or Shine star James Yap.

Completing the Visayas roster for the event whose major sponsor is Phoenix Fuel with Phoenix Pulse Technology, are JR Quinahan, Jeff Chan, Chris Ross, Joe Devance, Eman Monfort, Jericho Cruz, and veteran Asi Taulava.

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National coach Chot Reyes will rely on a team that has enough quickness, but lacking in height in trying to contain the Visayas selection’s Twin Tower of Fajardo and Slaughter.

Reyes has named Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Mac Belo, and Carl Bryan Cruz to man the frontcourt for the team in the meet supported by Peak Sports Apparel, Rain or Shine and PBA RUSH-Cignal.

But the nationals obviously have their strength at the backcourt, with Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and Jio Jalalon expected to call the shots for the ballclub.

The rest of the national squad includes Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, and Allein Maliksi.

The national team is using the All-Star stint to keep in shape for the next window of the World Cup in July.

The touring mid-season classic gets full blast on May 23 in Digos, Davao del Sur when the Mindanao selection of coach Tim Cone tests the mettle of the nationals.

Two days later in Batangas City, coach Leo Austria and the Luzon squad get their turn against the national pool team.   

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