MANILA –A larger contingent of the PBA’s top dunkers will take on each other in the PBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest on April 28 at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.
Unlike last year at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, when only four players participated, the league opened six more slots for this year’s slam-off, paving the way for former competitors who missed last year’s cut to be back in the fold.
Last year’s participants James Forrester (Blackwater), Chris Newsome (Meralco), and Rey Guevarra (Mahindra), the eventual champion, will make a return to this year’s event with the latter eyeing a fourth consecutive title.
The rest of the field includes returnees Japeth Aguilar (Ginebra), Calvin Abueva (Alaska), JC Intal (Phoenix), Justin Melton (Star), and Gabe Norwood (Rain Or Shine) and first-timers Arnold Van Opstal (San Miguel) and Mo Tautuaa (TNT).
Unlike the other side events, where each team has a representative, GlobalPort and NLEX did not assign a player to join the dunk contest.
On the other hand, Melton’s return to the dunk off caps a busy night for him as he will also participate in the obstacle challenge earlier in the night.
Melton, Sol Mercado (Ginebra), Stanley Pringle (GlobalPort), RJ Jazul (Phoenix), Chris Ross (San Miguel), Emman Monfort (NLEX), Chris Banchero (Alaska), Roi Sumang (Blackwater), LA Revilla (Mahindra), Ed Daquioag (Meralco), and Kris Rosales (TNT) will try to dethrone Maverick Ahanmisi (ROS) as obstacle challenge champ.
On the other hand, Terrence Romeo’s bid for a third straight PBA three-point shootout title will be met with a very tough set of opponents.
The GlobalPort scorer will have familiar opposition in Alaska’s Simon Enciso and Meralco’s Jared Dillinger, who joined last year’s edition at “The Big Dome”.
However, the rest of the pack is a good bunch of young gunners and veteran slingers that can give Romeo a run for his money.
Also joining this year’s contest are Blackwater’s Ronjay Buenafe, Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Mahindra’s Gary David, NLEX’s Juami Tiongson, Phoenix’s Matt Wright, Star’s Allein Maliksi, San Miguel’s Marcio Lassiter, Rain Or Shine’s Chris Tiu, and TNT’s Larry Fonacier.
Among the notable opponents apart from Enciso and Dillinger are David, whose career got rejuvenated early in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup, Wright, arguably the best shooter among the Gilas Cadets, Tiongson, whose own career got a revival after playing for Blu in the D-League, and Maliksi, who early in his career has been more known for his hops than his outside stroke.