DIGOS, Davao del Sur—Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has yet to confirm his participation in today’s PBA All-Star Week activity but the eight-division world champion still hasn’t shut the door on playing his first big-time basketball game.
“There is a big possibility that he will drop by, and if he will be allowed to play, he will play,” Gov. Douglas Cagas, the event host, said yesterday.
Pacquiao personally asked Cagas two days ago on the possibility of playing in the Legends game pitting the PBA Greats against the PBA Stalwarts at 6 p.m. today at the Sports, Cultural and Business Center of Davao Del Sur here.
The league welcomed Pacquiao’s intent.
The Saranggani congressman has yet to confirm if he is playing, however.
“I’m just happy that, if ever, he’ll be my teammate,” said Vince Hizon of the Greats. “At least, whatever happens, I wouldn’t be the one trying to take a charge on him (Pacquiao) when he drives to the basket.”
Benjie Paras, the only man to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards on the same year, will banner the Stalwarts.
Also on tap today are the Obstacle Challenge, the Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk events which have drawn great attention in past editions of the annual classic.
And while Jonas Villanueva and Mark Macapagal of Barako Bull shoot for fourth straight titles in the Obstacle and Three-Point contests, respectively, rookie Chris Ellis of Barangay Ginebra looms as the man to beat in the Slam Dunk event.
Villanueva won last year as a member of San Mig Coffee/B-Meg, while Macapagal was with Meralco. They became teammates at Barako Bull at the start of the season.
The Slam Dunk has not seen a creative dunker like Ellis ever since KG Cañaleta of Air21 ruled the event five times.
Josh Urbiztondo of Ginebra and Rain or Shine rookie Chris Tiu are the others tipped to crowd Macapagal for the Three-Point Shootout crown together with Cañaleta, who has evolved into a fine outside gun with the Express.
The festivities culminate with the holding of the Gilas Pilipinas-PBA All-Star Selection game on Sunday where the Nationals will play for the first time since being assembled earlier this year.
Chot Reyes will handle the national team, while Luigi Trillo, who guided Alaska to the No. 1 rank in the current Commissioner’s Cup, will call the shots for the PBA Selection made up of the best talents that weren’t called for national duty.
Marcus Douthit, the country’s naturalized 6-foot-10 center, will lead the Nationals together with in-form Barangay Ginebra point guard and reigning Jones Cup MVP LA Tenorio.
Japeth Aguilar and Gabe Norwood, who would be in the Slam Dunk Contest on a normal PBA season, were asked by Reyes to excuse themselves from the Skills Challenge—like all the others in the national pool—to avoid risks of injuries.
After this week, the national players go back to their mother teams that are in the Final Four of the Commissioner’s Cup, while the others start training with the PH five, which will clash with the Shanghai Sharks on Monday and Tuesday.