Jio Jalalon, Rey Nambatac take opposing sides as NCAA All Star unfurls on Friday

Letran top gunner Rey Nambatac and Arellano University’s Jio Jalalon take opposing sides as they lead their respective teams in the 3rd NCAA All Star on Friday at The Arena in San Juan City.

Nambatac, the league’s leading scorer with 22.7 points per game, will banner Team West and will be mentored by Knights’ rookie coach Jeff Napa.

The Letran star will enjoy the solid backing from his Letran teammates McJour Luib and Jomari Sollano, along with Mapua’s Darell Menina, Andrew Estrella and Exe Biteng, Lyceum’s Ian Alban, MJ Ayaay and Wilson Baltazar, Emilio Aguinaldo’s Jorem Morada, Francis Munsayac and Sidney Onwubere, and St. Benilde’s JJ Domingo, Yankie Haruna and Christian Fajarito.

Jalalon though will be at the forefront of Team East, which dropped an 89-88 decision to Team West in a thrilling finish in last year’s All Star edition.

The cat-quick Arellano playmaker Jalalon will get plenty of help from Perpetual Help’s Nigerian import Bright Akhuetie, San Beda’s prized duo of Davon Potts and Cameroon big man Donald Tankoua.

Team East coach Jamike Jarin said he’s eager to earn himself and his players a “bonus” by winning this year’s All Star game, even as he expects everyone else to have fun.

“Just being part of the All-Stars, winner ka na. Siyempre a win will be a bonus also. It would be nice to win,” said the Red Lions’ second-year mentor.

Also included in Team East are AU’s Kent Salado and Julius Cadavis, San Beda skipper Dan Sara, Perpetual Help’s Gab Dagangon and AJ Coronel, Tey Teodoro, Paolo Pontejos and Ervin Gorospe of Jose Rizal U and San Sebastian’s Michael Calisaan, Ryan Costelo and Jerrick Fabian.

Meanwhile, the Slam Dunk competition and Three-Point Shootout will serve as appetizers starting at 1 p.m., though tournament organizers have added the Shooting Stars and Skills Challenge to further liven up the annual NCAA basketball festivities.

“This year’s NCAA All-Star edition offers more excitement because we’ve introduced a pair of new events,” said NCAA Management Committee chair Jose Mari Lacson of Season 92 host San Beda.

“Also, we have some new, talented players, who came out from this year’s batch that should add more spice to an already talent-laden cast,” he added.

St. Benilde’s Yankie Haruna is favored in the Slam Dunk contest as he competes against a crack field led by Arellano U’s Lervin Flores and EAC’s Sydney Onwubere.

The other dunk contest participants include Jose Rizal’s Kim Aurin, Letran’s Renato Ular, Lyceum’s Jaycee Marcelino, Perpetual’s Rommel Mangalino, San Beda’s Eugene Toba and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi.

In the meantime, the Three-Point Shooting title is up for grabs, now that Letran’s Mark Cruz has moved up to the pro ranks. 

Nambatac hopes to succeed Cruz, but will be seriously challenged by Lyceum’s Wilson Baltazar, Arellano’s Zach Nicholls, St. Benilde’s Carlo Young, Mapua’s Exe Biteng, EAC’s Jervin Guzman, Jose Rizal’s Paolo Evardo, San Sebastian’s RK Ilagan, Perpetual Help’s McKevin Velasquez and San Beda’s AC Soberano.

Alban is also gunning for the Skills Challenge title where he will face the likes of AU’s Kraniel Villoria, JRU’s Mark dela Virgen, Letran’s Matthew Bernabe, St. Benilde’s Franz Pasamante, Perpetual help’s Flash Sadiwa, EAC’s Raymund Pascua, Mapua’s Almel Orquina, San Sebastian’s Ryan Costelo and San Beda’s Radge Tongco.

The Shooting Stars will have 10 teams, each composed of seniors and juniors players and a cage legend of their choice. – Jerome Lagunzad

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