(STAR) By Nelson Beltran  – As Dikembe Mutombo loved to say: “Not in my house.”

James Yap, Reynel Hugnatan and John Ferriols are saying practically the same thing, promising to do everything to avoid embarrassment in front of the Negros Occidental folks as the All-Star game is played today at the West Negros gym, capping the 2008 Smart PBA All-Star Week.

Yap, Hugnatan and Ferriols, players not exactly from Bacolod but who consider the place their hometown, lead the South All-Star team seeking revenge against their North counterparts who frolicked in their own turf in Baguio last year.

“Of course, you don’t want to get embarrassed in front of your provincemates, so you will do everything possible to win this for them,” said Yap, who’s from the nearby Escalante town.

“Our mindset is so be it if the North team beats the South somewhere else but not in our place,” added Yap, speaking also in behalf of coach Boyet Fernandez, who’s from Villadolid, some 30 kilometers away.

“We don’t want to get embarrassed, specially in front of our provincemates,” explained Fernandez, a first-time All-Star coach.

Kelly Williams, Danny Seigle, Asi Taulava, Jimmy Alapag, Joachim Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros and Junthy Valenzuela themselves have Visayan roots. Mindanaoans Peter June Simon and Cyrus Baguio complete the South team roster.

Though the game is more of a friendly tiff and showcase of individual talents for the fans, Fernandez expects his player to play with pride.

But letting the South team to get back here seems to be the furthest thing on the minds of the North All Stars.

“Walang sasarap sa dadayo ka at uuwi kang panalo,” said Marc Pingris. “We’re driven to win, para paguwi sa Manila, taas ang noo namin.”

Mark Caguioa half-jokingly plead that the Southerners be gracious hosts, reminding everybody that he’s coming here with his mother team Barangay Ginebra yet to win a single game in the season-ending Fiesta Conference.

Kerby Raymundo, Jayjay Helterbrand, Lordy Tugade, Rico Villanueva, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, Arwind Santos, Willie Miller, Nic Belasco and MacMac Cardona complete the North team in this year’s edition of the annual mid-season spectacle sponsored by Pigrolac, Mighty Bond, Coke, Accel, Air21 and Yakult.

Somehow, it’s like a continuation of the recent Sta. Lucia-Purefoods All-Filipino finale since Fernandez is up against Ryan Gregorio.

Gregorio, however, stressed that more than anything else, the All-Star Game is “about giving something back to the fans, and all of us just hope to give all the fans here something to enjoy and remember.”

The Shooting Stars and the Legends Shootout serve as aperitifs to the All-Star main event.

Renren Ritualo, Dondon Hontiveros and John Arigo, the top three placers in the three-point shootout Friday, will team up in challenging the trio of Boy Cabahug, Rhoel Gomez and Boyet Fernandez in the Legends Shootout.

For the record, active players have won over retired players only once since the Legends Shootout was introduced in Cebu in 2004. Among retired players who have participated in the novel event are Cabahug, Gomez, Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Al Solis, Ronnie Magsanoc, Alvin Patrimonio, Frankie Lim, Ricric Marata, Jojo Lastimosa, Pido Jarencio and Ato Agustin

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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