HE has packed on several pounds the past few years and admits he no longer has the same elevation, but Japeth Aguilar believes he can come up with a fine performance as he bids for the PBA Slam Dunk title on Friday in Palawan.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar admitted he was disappointed after ending up empty-handed during the 2014 edition held at the Mall of Asia Arena. But with teammate Chris Ellis, the 2013 Slam Dunk king, as well as five-time champion Nino Canaleta of NLEX pulling out due to injuries, Aguilar feels he has a better chance to win it this time.
But he notes he has gained 20 pounds since winning the 2006 Slam Dunk contest as a member of Western Kentucky Hilltopper during the campus’ Midnight Madness and can no longer execute the same aerial moves.
“Dati, 205 pounds lang ako nun, pero ngayon mga nasa 225 pounds na ako. Before kasi, kahit sa free throw, nakakatalon ako, saka tinatapon ko pa sa board yung bola, tapos tumatalon ako,” Aguilar said.
“Pero ngayon di na ako makatalon ng malayo, halos malapit na lang sa ring,” he added.
He intends to use his wide wingspan to try and pull off Washington Wizards guard John Wall’s trademark dunk over the team’s mascot G-Man in the NBA 2014 All Star weekend.
“Iyung kay John Wall na kinuha niya yung bola sa ere, may tinalunan siya, tapos kinuha niya yung bola," he said when asked what dunks he intends to pull off, "pero tingnan natin.”
PBA Slam Dunk co-champions Justin Melton of Purefoods Star and Meralco’s Rey Guevara are returning, while also vying for honors are Barako Bull’s JC Intal, Talk ’N Text rookie Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Cyrus Baguio of Alaska.
The 6-foot-1 Baguio, nicknamed 'Skyrus,' is attempting to join an elite cast of multiple winners led by Canaleta (five), Kelly Williams, Vergel Meneses and Don Camaso (two). He won his first dunk title in 2004 as a sophomore guard for Red Bull.
Aside from the Slam Dunk contest, the Skills Challenge includes the Obstacle Challenge and Three-Point Shootout. The side events will start at 4 p.m. at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum.
Highlighting the day is the game featuring the Rookies and Sophomores.
The Rookies, who will be handled by San Miguel assistant coach Peter Martin, will be led by top rookie pick Stanley Pringle. Other members of the Rookie squad are Ganuelas and Talk ’N Text teammate Kevin Alas, Chris Banchero of Alaska, San Miguel’s Ronald Pascual, Barako Bull’s Jake Pascual, GlobalPort’s Anthony Semerad and Blackwater’s Brian Heruela.
The Sophomore side, to be mentored by Alaska assistant coach Jeff Cariaso, include GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo, Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine, Eric Camson of NLEX, Barako Bull’s RR Garcia, San Miguel’s Jeric Fortuna, Purefoods Star’s Justin Melton and Blackwater’s Alex Nuyles.
Purefoods Star guard Mark Barroca will be gunning for his second straight title in the Obstacle Challenge, which will also feature Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Revilla, Garcia, Heruela, Banchero, Pringle, Fortuna, Jayson Castro and four-time champion Jonas Villanueva.