Jamie Malonzo pulls out of PBA Slam Dunk contest due to injury
PASSI CITY, ILOILO — The PBA chose to play it safe and allowed Ginebra ace Jamie Malonzo to withdraw from the All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk competition due to an injury.
“[Malonzo] told me that he wanted to do the dunk contest but he is bothered by his [shoulder],” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said in the kickoff presser Thursday noon at Midway Fresh Market & Restaurant here.
“I told him not to do it anymore. If this was the 3-Point Shootout, I’d let him play through it. But the Slam Dunk contest? He might suffer an injury and I might be blamed by both the team and its fans,” he added.
A bevy of injuries—from minor to serious—has hit the All-Star delegation. Japeth Aguilar, who will skipper one of the squads in the main exhibition this Sunday, will be reduced to a cheerleader as he continues to rest his right leg.
June Mar Fajardo, the league’s six-time Most Valuable Player, is also set to miss the contest following a knee injury he sustained in San Miguel Beer’s bid in the East Asia Super League Champions Week.
Replacing the soft-spoken big man for Team Japeth is Meralco’s Raymond Almazan.
“We’re dealing with a lot of injuries. (Converge’s Alec) Stockton was shelved because of a busted nose. (Rain or Shine’s) Gabe Norwood was shelved, too,” Marcial explained.
“Even Encho Serrano has a sprain and might not be able to compete in the dunk contest. I asked him to observe his status until Friday. We all know the dunk contest is a (bit riskier) compared to the Three-Point (Shootout) and the Skills Game,” the league chief went on.
Serrano is being eyed as a game-time replacement for Malonzo.
Other standouts missing the All-Star Game are Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, San Miguel’s Terrence Romeo, and TNT’s Mikey Williams.
Calvin Oftana, Jio Jalalon, and Alex Cabagnot were brought in as replacements.
Still, the festivities are looking to go on without a hitch. The PBA went on to hold two separate fan meetups here.
The league cranks things up on Saturday when it holds an outreach event and then the individual contests and the rookie-sophomore-junior exhibition later in the evening.
The All-Star Weekend culminates this Sunday with Team Japeth taking on Scottie Thompson’s selection in an exhibition set at City of Passi Arena.