Almazan: Keep ‘bigs’ shootout, revive PBA dunk contest

Almazan: Keep ‘bigs’ shootout, revive PBA dunk contest

/ 05:15 AM March 24, 2024

Meralco's Raymond Almazan PBA All-Star

Meralco’s Raymond Almazan wins PBA All-Star Big Man 3-point shooting. –PBA IMGS

BACOLOD CITY—Count the inaugural champion of the PBA’s three-point shootout big man edition as among those who initially wondered why the Slam Dunk contest was scrapped from this year’s All-Star Weekend.

“To be honest, I was surprised because it has been a part of the All-Star each year,” Meralco’s Raymond Almazan said after his 19-point performance defeated Blackwater rookie Christian David, Terrafirma’s Isaac Go and NLEX’s Dave Marcelo in Saturday’s finals here.

Fans, especially those not shy posting their sentiments on social media, were quick to express dismay after the league announced the absence of the dunk event in favor of a second three-point contest to be participated by frontcourt players.


READ: PBA All-Star: Almazan wins inaugural big man 3-point shootout

After its first staging held at University of St. La Salle Coliseum, the big men shootout has promises of being an annual fixture.

While Almazan was even surprised of his winning effort in taking the top prize of P30,000, players like David, Go and Marcelo put on impressive showings as well.

San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo had an on-and-off showing but scored a decent 15 points while NorthPort’s JM Calma, who earlier took the Obstacle Challenge, surprisingly knocked down 16 despite never attempting a single three in the current PBA Philippine Cup.


Dull moments

But the competition also had a few dull moments, with Magnolia’s James Laput having the lowest output with six points. His appearance came after the team’s representative Aris Dionisio was tapped as a replacement for Sunday’s All-Star Game.

“I think the big man shootout is a good addition [to the All-Star Weekend], because it would help showcase skilled big men who can hit threes,” said Almazan.


READ: LIVE UPDATES: 2024 PBA All-Star Saturday in Bacolod

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said several players who were initially tagged to take part in the Dunk Contest dealt with the injuries, prompting the league to skip the event for the first time since its debut in 1992.

Marcial added that the big man shootout could be held each year, and Almazan offered one interesting suggestion.

“Why not put the three-point shootout for big men and the PBA Slam Dunk contest, so it would be entertaining for the fans?” Almazan said.

Almazan admitted that making the fans satisfied was the bare minimum when he initially accepted the offer of replacing injured rookie Brandon Bates as Meralco’s representative.

He had a lot to thank, including former Rain or Shine teammate Paul Lee, the Magnolia star whose defense of the regular three-point event ended with a loss to TNT’s Calvin Oftana in the finals.

Oftana hit 25 points, dislodging the 2023 champion Lee and Meralco’s Chris Newsome.

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“Paul told me that the key is to get my rhythm, especially the money ball rack since that would be key in my chances of winning,” Almazan said. “I’m really thankful to Paul for helping me out.”

TAGS: PBA All-star, Raymond Almazan

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