All eyes on PBA gunners, dunkers

Roger Pogoy is a hot favorite to win the Three-Point Shootout in the PBA All-Star Weekend. Photo by Rio Deluvio

The best snipers and dunkers in the Philippine Basketball Association take centerstage when the league’s All-Star Weekend unwraps on Friday at the City of Passi Arena in Passi, Iloilo.

A bumper cast of shooters will be seeing action in the Three-Point Shootout while four high flyers will vie in the Slam Dunk Contest of this event that is making a return after a four-year hiatus due to coronavirus pandemic.

Roger Pogoy, the league’s leader in three-point percentage with 51 percent, is tipped to torch the net in this side event starting 3 p.m. against young guns Gian Mamuyac of Phoenix Super LPG, RK Ilagan of Blackwater, Juami Tiongson of Terrafirma, Kevin Alas of NLEX, Jeremiah Gray of Ginebra, Aaron Black of Meralco, Arwind Tolentino of NorthPort, Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel Beer, Paul Lee of Magnolia and Jerrick Balanza of Converge.

James Yap, the 41-year-old two-time winner of the long-distance shootout, was supposed to join after more than a year of hiatus from active competition.

He, however, had a change of heart and agreed to give up his spot to the 24-year-old Mamuyac.

The last time the event was held was in 2019 with Yap’s teammate in PJ Simon emerging victorious.

Simon, however, decided to retire with the Purefoods franchise giving him a fitting farewell by having his jersey retired during a game against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in 2021.

But all eyes will be on the Slam Dunk Contest.

With Jamie Malonzo pulling out due to shoulder injury, the battle had turned into a wide-open race among Tyrus Hill of Blackwater, David Murrell of Converge, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Chris Lalata of Phoenix Super LPG.

Malonzo, who is fresh from playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, admitted that their grueling campaigns in the Commissioner’s Cup and the ongoing Governors’ Cup have taken a toll on his 26-year-old body.

“All these games, I had been playing a lot of stuff, so I just decided to take this one easy,” said Malonzo after the Kings booked a 109-104 win over Terrafirma Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.

Still, Malonzo assured that he will treat the fans to an aerial show when he plays for Team Japeth in the All-Star Game on Sunday.

“I will be there at the All-Star game and I will show the dunks I got. I’ll give you what I got,” Malonzo said.

In the Obstacle Challenge, big men will once again take the spotlight with Beau Belga of Rain or Shine defending his title against Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra, Raymond Almazan of Meralco and Dave Marcelo of TNT.

Young guns Larry Muyang of Phoenix, James Laput of Magnolia, JM Calma of NorthPort, Ato Ular of Blackwater, Justin Arana of Converge and Joseph Gabayni of Terrafirma will compete in a bid to steal the thunder from their seasoned counterparts.

Wrapping up the busy day will be other rising stars as they compete in the RSJ: Team Stalwarts versus Team Greats starting at 5:45 p.m.

The following day, the PBA will hold Coaches Clinic to be led by Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia at 10 a.m. while Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario will be helped out by the players from the RSJ in conducting a basketball camp starting at 1 p.m.

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