MANILA, Philippines – Five-time Slam Dunk champion Niño Canaleta will not be flying high and throwing down thunderous dunks in the 2015 PBA All-Star festivities at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Instead, the sweet-shooting NLEX forward will be heaving from beyond the arc at this year’s Three-point Shootout contest in a bid to add another All-Star silverware, albeit from another event, to his collection.
"Nagshu-shooting ako sa spots para pagdating sa All-Star, hindi tayo makulelat," said the 33-year old. (I’m practicing my shooting at the spots so I won’t flop at the All-Star.)
Canaleta withdrew from this year’s Slam Dunk contest due to a sore knee.
"Nagdecide na lang ako na mag-withdraw [sa Slam Dunk]. Pag pinilit talaga, baka lumala lang. Though nakakalaro ako, nararamdaman ko," he said, adding that he felt relieved with his decision. "Medyo lumuwag yung pagiisip ko."
(I decided to withdraw from the Slam Dunk contest. If I force it, it might get worse. Though I can play, I still feel it. It cleared my mind up a bit.)
The Three-point Shootout will not be an easy task for Canaleta despite his 44% shooting clip from that distance this conference. His competition includes the likes of 4-time Three-Point king and reigning champion Mark Macapagal, as well as former champions Chris Tiu, Dondon Hontiveros, and Jimmy Alapag.
He admitted every one of them is a threat to him, which is why he hopes to shoot first rather than later.
"Mas okay sa una. Sayo manggagaling yung pressure,” he said. “Rhythm yun eh. Pag nakuha mo, mas madali, tuloy-tuloy." (It’s better to go first. The pressure will come from you. You have to be in rhythm. If you get into a groove, it becomes easier, and it goes from there.)
The PBA All-Star Weekend is from March 6 to 8, with the Rookies vs Sophomores game along with the Obstacle Challenge, Three-point Shootout, and Slam Dunk Contest happening on Friday, March 6.
The All-Star Game featuring the North and South All-Star teams will be played on Sunday, March 8. Respected player and 11-time All-Star Alapag will also retire his jersey on Sunday. – Rappler.com