We all know that feeling. You’re part of a big Viber group of people you consider your friends. It’s all good. But then the Viber group is trimmed down into a smaller faction, a tighter bond, and somehow you’re not a part of that. It sucks. It’s a situation that can lead to anxiety and irrational thoughts. Why no invite? What—or worse, who—are they talking about? What’s wrong with me? Was it something I said/did?
There’s a general umbrella of social rejection: getting seen-zoned, blocked, unfriended, or not invited to a party. In sports talk, it’s simpler. Getting benched is the ultimate rejection and not playing at the All-Star Game is the worst kind of DNP. The power ranking goes like this, from bad to worst.
3. Not getting the ball for the last shot
2. Not getting enough minutes
1. Being snubbed at the All-Star Game
And that’s because being qualified as an “All-Star Game snub” means the player probably deserved a spot, yet the coaches were like, nah. That’s bad, but the coaches have their reasons. Plus, that’s the vicious nature of All-Star Games. You trim down the elites into a smaller faction, a tighter group, and someone will inevitably get hurt. What’s worse is when those not picked are names that are always in the MVP discussion, which leads us to…
Watching NorthPort’s Sean Anthony play basketball is a rough experience. There’s a lot of pump fakes, a lot of bumping, a lot of steals, a lot of awkward body contortion to get his shot off. The guy’s intense. There are traces of Vic Pablo when he drives and hints of Noy Castillo when he shoots. Only difference is that both Pablo and Castillo were All-Stars. Anthony, on the other hand, hasn’t played in a single All-Star Game and won’t play in this year’s All-Star Game despite having the breakout season stats for it (20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals per game). He was also among the top five in last year’s MVP race.
Why it hasn’t happened for him is a mystery and a valid reason to riot, but Anthony has been a good soldier despite the constant snubs. After the 2019 All-Star rosters were announced, he tweeted: “Find it odd that I’ve been put in the BPC (Best Player of the Conference)/MVP rankings the last couple of years but have never been selected for an All-Star game…Once again it’s out of my control so it’s back to my grind…I control the work I put in to get better everyday and I will continue to do so.” Sean Anthony is an All-Star in 2020, book it.
If Sean Anthony would’ve added much needed grit to the All-Star Game, then Chris Newsome would’ve brought the thunder. Remember when he juggled three basketballs then bounced one off the floor and he had to reach back like an acrobat to slam it home? Remember when he, as a rookie, introduced himself to Arwind Santos but instead of shaking Santos’ hand like a normal person, he dunked on him? Imagine Newsome catching lobs, dunking all over everyone at the All-Star Game. Who says no? (The coaches. The coaches said no.)
Catching bodies isn’t the only thing Newsome brings to the table. He’s developed an all-around game (14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists per game) in Meralco. The former Rookie of the Year hasn’t regressed one bit. We need him at the All-Stars.
Another player who won’t get to sit at the cool kids’ table this year is San Miguel’s Christian Standhardinger, which feels weird because Standhardinger has been in every cool kids’ table—All-Rookie Team, the Finals, Gilas Pilipinas. Except the All-Star Game.
His 16 points and 7 rebounds per game for the Beermen this year is a drop from the previous conference’s 23 and 13, but Standhardinger is still a visual thrill to watch. The way he navigates a jampacked paint with the efficiency of a bulldozer is All-Star material. Also, shouldn’t dropping 30 on Iran an automatic All-Star spot in Philippine basketball?
Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang is one of those low-key, old school-type PBA players who takes care of the dirty business inside. At 6”7’, Sangalang is a rare commodity in a June Mar Fajardo-dominated world. He mails in a double-double almost every night with a bonus two blocks. All-Star numbers for sure.
Nothing fancy, nothing controversial about Sangalang’s game. He gets the job done. Too bad for him, getting the job done doesn’t always guarantee an All-Star spot. Just a wild suggestion: perhaps he should do something crazy with his hair.
Take a glance at the PBA standings and you might need a double take. Sitting at the very top with eight wins and one loss is Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters. Their star, Matthew Wright, is putting up BPC numbers with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Those numbers—plus a Gilas stint—weren’t enough to buy him a slot at the All-Stars.
The knock on Wright’s game is that he doesn’t play D. His nearly two steals per game should correct that, right? He’s not only a shooter now. Wright is a complete basketball player who, judging from his past All-Star Game appearances, is entertaining as hell. Snubbing a two-time All-Star MVP? That ain’t Wright.