By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra forward Nino “KG“ Canaleta will be gunning for an unprecedented fifth title in the Slam Dunk competitions in the Skills Event of the PBA All-Star Weekend in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
The 6-foot-4 Canaleta, who captured the title three straight years from his rookie season in 2005 until 2007, and then won again in 2010 in Palawan, is among the early favorites to win the event
Canaleta failed to defend his championship a year ago due to injury, but said he’s ready and excited to compete again against the best high-flyers in the league.
“I’m excited, although a bit nervous, because there are others who are also capable, especially the young players. But I’m coming in well-prepared for this one,“ said Canaleta, who will also compete in the Three-Point Shootout contest and will play in the Legends game.
Talk ‘N Text’s Kelly Williams will try to defend the Slam Dunk crown. Others in the roster are Gabe Norwood, B-Meg’s Marc Pingris and JC Intal, and young high-flyers such as TNT’s Japeth Aguilar, Ginebra’s Rico Maierhofer, and Air21’s Elmer Espiritu.
The Slam Dunk and the Shooting Stars are set before the `main event’ All-Star Game on Sunday, while the other competitions, the Obstacle Challenge and ThreePoint Shootout, will be held as side-events for Team Greats versus Team Stalwarts tomorrow.
In the Three-Point Shootout, Mark Macapagal will try to extend his dominance after winning the title back 2010 in Palawan and last year in Boracay, although he will be challenged by former champions like James Yap of B-Meg and Ren-Ren Ritualo of Air21.
Aside from the two, also entered in the event are Canaleta, a first timer in the contest, Gary David of Powerade, the scoring champion the past two seasons, former two-time MVP Willie Miller of Barako Bull, Cyrus Baguio of Alaska, Jeff Chan of Rain or Shine, TNT’s Larry Fonacier, and rookie Chris Lutz of Petron Blaze.
In the Obstacle Challenge, BMeg’s Jonas Villanueva will likewise aim for a three-peat.
His challengers include former champion Alex Cabagnot, JV Casio of Powerade, Rain or Shine rookie Paul Lee, Meralco’s Chris Ross and Sol Mercado, Alaska’s LA Tenorio, TNT’s Jayson Castro, Jojo Duncil of Air21, and Rob Labagala of Ginebra.
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