By Jonas Terrado
(Calasiao Sports Complex)
4:30 p.m. – Skills Challenge
7 p.m. – Rookies-Sophomores vs Jrs
CALASIAO, Pangasinan – Top youngsters fight for bragging rights while some of the league’s mainstays look to showcase their skills to kick off the PBA All-Star Weekend at the Calasiao Sports Complex here.
The festivities start at 4:30 p.m. with the Skills Competition featuring the Obstacle Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest followed by a 7 p.m. exhibition between the Rookies-Sophomores and Juniors teams.
Both events will serve as an appetizer for the centerpiece All-Star Game between the North and South on Sunday.
Rey Guevarra of Phoenix Pulse and James Yap and Beau Belga of Rain or Shine are determined to defend their titles in their respective events.
Guevarra is gunning for a record-tying fifth Slam Dunk crown, Yap goes for a third Shootout title and Belga seeks a repeat of last year’s Obstacle Challenge triumph in Batangas City.
Determined to spoil Guevarra’s bid to tie KG Canaleta are last year’s runner-up Renz Palma of Blackwater, former champion Chris Newsome of Meralco, rookie CJ Perez of Columbian and Lervin Flores of NorthPort.
Phoenix’s Matthew Wright and San Miguel Beer’s Marcio Lassiter are among the favorites to dislodge Yap as Three-Point King even as San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo lead a group of big men aiming to deny Belga another win.
Meanwhile, the exhibition pitting the PBA’s rising stars will serve as a tribute to the inaugural All-Star Game held in 1989 when the Veterans beat the Rookies, Sophomores and Juniors on Ramon Fernandez’s buzzer-beating layup.
The Juniors team is composed of Pogoy, Wright, Jio Jalalon, Rashawn McCarthy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Rafael Banal, Kevin Ferrer, Von Pessumal, Ed Daquioag and Russell Escoto.
Comprising the Rookies-Sophomores are Jason Perkins, Jeron Teng, Robert Bolick, Abu Tratter, Mark Tallo, Robbie Herndon, Perez, Reymar Jose, Trevis Jackson, Rey Nambatac and Paul Desiderio.
The delegation arrived in this town past noon with Mayor Joseph Arman Bauzon hosting a lunch at the Municipal Hall.