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Blitz game, skills challenge usher in All-Star festivities

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The Blitz Game and Skills Challenge formally usher in the PBA All-Star festivities, presented by Arena Plus Saturday at the University of St. La Salle gymnasium.

The Obstacle Course kicks off the mid-season spectacle at 3 p.m. before the match between Team Greats and Team Stalwarts caps the opener of the two-day event that returns to the City of Smiles for the first time since 2008.

Dave Marcelo of NLEX is out to defend his title in the Obstacle Challenge, where he will be pitted against veterans Raymond Almazan (Meralco), Jason Perkins (Phoenix), Mo Tautuaa (San Miguel), and youngsters Clifford Jopia (Blackwater), Justin Arana (Converge), James Laput (Magnolia), JM Calma (Northport), Leonard Santillan (Rain or Shine), Isaac Go (Terrafirma), Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser (TNT), and late entry Ralph Cu (Barangay Ginebra), who takes the place of teammate Christian Standhardinger.

Marcelo dethroned Beau Belga in last year’s contest in Passi City, Iloilo.

Meanwhile, Magnolia’s Paul Lee will also aim for a back-to-back in the Long Distance Three-Point shootout among guards.

Lee, who beat out Marcio Lassiter (San Miguel) and Juami Tiongson (Terrafirma) for the title last year, is up against another formidable cast of deadly gunners in Maverick Ahanmisi (Barangay Ginebra), two-time winner James Yap (Blackwater), Alec Stockton (Converge), Chris Newsome (Meralco), Robbie Herndon (NLEX), Arvin Tolentino (Northport), Ken Tuffin (Phoenix), Andrei Caracut (Rain or Shine), Javi Gomez de Liano (Terrafirma), Calvin Oftana (TNT), and Lassiter.

In yet another novelty plan, a second version of the Three-Point shootout will also be held, but this time involving 12 of the league’s big men, as a replacement for the traditional Slam Dunk contest.

Majority of the players competing in the Obstacle Challenge are also entered in the event, with the exception of Christian David (Blackwater) and Keith Zaldivar (Converge).

The main offering will pit Team Greats of Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser vs. Team Stalwarts of Kyt Jimenez at 6:15 p.m.

Ganuelas-Rosser leads Team Greats that also includes de Liano, Tuffin, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Arana, Cu, Caracut, RK Ilagan, Stockton, Gian Mamuyac, Laput, and Shaun Ildefonso. Coaching the squad is Patrick Partosa of Barangay Ginebra.

Joining Jimenez in Team Stalwarts are Stephen Holt, David, Fran Yu, John Amores, Adrian Nocum, Kim Aurin, Calma, Joshua Munzon, Anton Asistio, Santillan, and Zaldivar. Peter Martin of San Miguel will call the shots for the team.

Team Greats whipped Team Stalwarts, 158-138, in the event involving rookie, sophomore, and junior players in last year’s staging that also featured a three-point dunk and four-point line for the first time in All-Star history.*PBA.PH

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