CALASIAO, Pangasinan – The first wave of PBA All-Star participants arrived here on Thursday as the league gears up for a weekend of fun and non-stop basketball.
Five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel and two-time winner James Yap of Rain or Shine led two busloads of players who travelled for four hours from Manila all the way to this province - holder of the world record for the largest rice cake mosaic - in time for the staging of the yearly All-Star spectacle.
Fajardo will be competing in his first Obstacle Race while Yap guns for back-to-back Three-Point shootout titles in Friday’s Skills Challenge.
The two will later team up for Sunday’s main course pitting the South against the North.
Upon arrival, the league contingent led by Commissioner Willie Marcial paid a courtesy call to Calasiao Mayor Joseph Bauzon, who is the nephew of PBA pioneer Orly Bauzon and the late former Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Josie Bauzon.
After lunch, the delegation held a motorcade around the municipality, followed by a meet-and-greet event at the Robinsons and CSI malls, respectively.
Other than the Obstacle and Three-Point Shootout, also part of the Skills Challenge is the Slam Dunk contest, where Rey Guevarra of Meralco goes for a record-tying fifth title currently held by KG Canaleta (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2012).
Rain or Shine’s Beau Belga is the defending champion in the Obstacle Race featuring 11 other big men.
The Rookies/Sophomores versus Juniors game highlight the second day of All-Star action.
The former core of the Gilas Pilipinas cadets led by Mac Belo and Roger Pogoy make up the Juniors squad to be coached by Phoenix deputy Topex Robinson.
The coaching staff of Rain or Shine under Mike Buendia meanwhile, will handle the Rookies/Sophomores unit led by Jason Perkins and last year’s top rookie pick CJ Perez.
The Rookies/Sophomores versus Juniors had been adopted in this year’s All-Star weekend in celebration of its 30th year being institutionalized as part of the league’s annual spectacle.
Meanwhile, the second wave of the All-Star contingent, composed mostly of players from the North and South teams, will arrive on Saturday.