June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson neck-and-neck in early PBA All-Star Game voting

San Miguel Beermen star June Mar Fajardo leads the early voting for the upcoming PBA All-Star Game with 37,915 votes -- 156 ahead of Barangay Ginebra ace Scottie Thompson. PBA Media Bureau

The two players who have won the last seven PBA Most Valuable Player awards are a close 1-2 in the initial All-Star Game voting, according to information released by the league on Wednesday afternoon.

San Miguel Beermen's June Mar Fajardo, who was named MVP for six straight years starting in 2014, leads all vote-getters with 37,915 votes, just 156 votes ahead of 2021 MVP Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Two of Thompson's teammates, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo, are third with 37,322 and 32,998 votes, respectively. Magnolia Hotshots' Calvin Abueva rounds up the top five with 32,503.

Fans can vote either on the PBA's official website or at the venue.

The top 24 vote-getters will be named to the All-Star Game to be held on Mar. 12 in Passi City, Iloilo. The top two vote-getters will be named team captains and will alternately pick 11 players for their respective teams.

Ginebra, SMB players dominate

If the early tally is any indication, Ginebra and San Miguel will be well-represented in the All-Star Game, which is making a comeback after a three-year absence.

Aside from Thompson, Aguilar and Malonzo, Christian Standhardinger (7th with 29,821 votes), LA Tenorio (9th with 28,027), Stanley Pringle (10th with 27,441) and Jeremiah Gray (17th with 18,875) cracked the magic 24. Other Beermen in the race include CJ Perez (6th with 31,184), Terrence Romeo (11th with 24,821) and Marcio Lassiter (19th with 18,556).

TNT Tropang Giga also had four players in the top 24: Jayson Castro (12th with 24,448), RR Pogoy (15th with 20,042), Mikey Williams (18th with 18,826) and Calvin Oftana (23rd with 15,427). Aside from Abueva, the Hotshots were also represented by Paul Lee (13th with 24,126) and Mark Barroca (21st with 17,139).

Rain or Shine Elasto Painters' James Yap, who has played just two games since September 2021, showed that he still has major star power after landing in 8th with 28,117 votes. His teammate and 15-year veteran Gabe Norwood was in 22nd with 15,448. Robert Bolick (14th with 23,468) and Arvin Tolentino (20th with 18,444) of the NorthPort Batang Pier, Meralco Bolts' Chris Newsome (16th with 19,637) and NLEX Road Warriors' Kevin Alas (24th with 15,205) completed the top 24.

Blackwater Bossing, Terrafirma Dyip, Converge FiberXers and Phoenix Super LPG all failed to land a player in the top 24. From among these teams, only the Dyip's Alex Cabagnot (29th) managed to crack the top 30.

Ginebra also leads way in RSJ, coaches votes

Even in the other categories, Ginebra showed the way.

For the Rookies-Sophomores-Juniors game, the Ginebra pair of Malonzo and Gray were 1-2, followed by Oftana, Rain or Shine's Shaun Ildefonso, and Tolentino. Phoenix's Tyler Tio, Meralco's Aaron Black, Williams, Converge's Justin Arana and Magnolia's Jerrick Ahanmisi rounded up the top ten.

Grabbing the 11th to 20th spots were Rain or Shine's Gian Mamuyac, Blackwater's RK Ilagan, NLEX's Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Terrafirma's Isaac Go, Converge's Jerrick Balanza, NorthPort's Joshua Munzon, NLEX's Matt Nieto, Phoenix's Encho Serrano, and Rain or Shine's Anton Asistio and Mike Nieto. The top 20 vote-getters will play in the RSJ game.

Players who finish in the top 24 in the main All-Star Game and in the top 20 in the RSJ game will participate only in the main event. They will be replaced in the RSJ game by the next vote-getters outside of the top 20.

In the coaches' voting, Ginebra's Tim Cone was the runaway top vote-getter with 51,707.

In second place was Rain or Shine's Yeng Guiao with 22,705, followed by Converge's Aldin Ayo (14,763) and Meralco's Norman Black (11,605). The top two vote-getters will coach in the All-Star Game.

With four teams -- TNT, NorthPort, Phoenix and San Miguel -- parading new head coaches, the presence of champion coaches Cone, Guiao and Black was hardly a surprise. The voting, however, reflected the popularity of Ayo, who is coaching in just his second PBA conference, among fans.