ANYBODY who isn’t getting excited about this year’s PBA All-Stars in Palawan isn’t a basketball fan.
It’s not so much the All-Star game, which really isn’t much of a break from the ennui of elimination round matches. I mean, it’s basically like someone dreamed up a quadrupleheader crammed into a single playdate that would spare us from having to watch Barako Coffee play.
Speaking of which, how does one rationalize the fact that after raiding stars from other teams, San Miguel Beer only has two players on the All-Star squads? It would have been a testament to the franchise’s purchasing power—against the backdrop of the fact that favorite sellers Barako Coffee and Air21 have no players on the list—had the Beermen contributed at least five for the game.
But that’s digressing.
I’ve always been supportive of the move to amp up the All-Stars by focusing on the side events, specifically the three-point shootout and the slam dunk contest.
And really, this year? This is as mouthwatering as it gets.
The three-point shootout brings back memories of the times when Larry Bird would join the long-range contest during the NBA midweek classic. And the slam dunk contest? Do I hear Jordan-Wilkins?
Consider this: Defending three-point champion James Yap of Derby Ace will defend his title against former two-time champs Dondon Hontiveros of San Miguel Beer and Air21’s Renren Ritualo. Mark Macapagal of Coca-Cola and clutch Talk ‘N Text playmaker Jimmy Alapag should provide stiff challenge.
I am, however, quite disappointed that Barangay Ginebra decided to submit Ronald Tubid’s name to the three-point contest. I would’ve chosen—and maybe even wagered on—Sunday Salvacion. Oh, and there’s Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan, certainly not a participant you can overlook.
The slam dunk contest, however, is where it’s at as far as the All-Stars event is concerned.
How about this for a cast: Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood, who would probably lead the league in dunks if the PBA kept tabs, will defend his crown against certified aerial artists KG Canaleta of Derby Ace, a three-time winner, and Kelly Williams of Sta. Lucia, also a former champ.
And to add to the intrigue, JC Intal, Barangay Ginebra’s version of a highlight reel, Talk ‘N Text leaper Jared Dillinger and Derby Ace rookie Rico Maierhofer have been thrown into the list.
I mean, the only thing that could have made things more exciting is if the PBA did some novel act like maybe train some chimp to dunk tennis balls through mini hoops and entered it into the contest too.
These players, chimp excluded, have been given the opportunity to really make this an All-Star weekend to remember and they will do their fans justice if right this very moment they start thinking up routines instead of making them up on the fly during the event itself.
These dunkers are beastly athletes and there’s no telling how exciting things can get if they sprinkle a little creativity to their moves.
So, anybody up for a wager as to who’ll win these side events?