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Arena Plus joins PBA All-Star fray with successful viewing party

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Arena Plus joins PBA All-Star fray with successful viewing party

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) had a blast last weekend with an unforgettable outing in the All-Star Weekend in Bacolod – the City of Smiles – and so did the fans all the way here in Manila.

As the PBA returns to fold this Sunday for an explosive double-header after almost a two-week lull, it brings with it the enthusiasm and momentum from the fun-filled weekend that featured a historic event for the fans of Asia’s first professional league – amid being hundreds of miles away from the exhibition games in Negros Occidental.

Arena Plus, the league’s official sports entertainment gateway through its interactive gaming platforms, held the first-ever PBA All-Star Watch Party at the Social House Bar and Restaurant in Circuit Makati, gathering personalities from all walks of life in one, big happy extravaganza.

Fun arcades, including basketball shootouts, and board games were played by attendees as the up-and-coming PBA players strut their stuff in the Rookies, Sophomores, Juniors All-Star Game also known as Team Greats vs Team Stalwarts.

Trivia games, including the player with Most All-Star MVPs, Points and Rebounds among the few, were also held with winners being rewarded prizes and tokens by Arena Plus as music by celebrity DJs blared in the venue.

In a way, fans felt like they were at the St. University of La Salle Gym in Bacolod, where Team Greats bested Team Stalwarts behind the 36-point eruption of All-Star MVP Justin Arana from the Converge FiberXers.

One interesting game during the RSJ All-Stars was the drinking contest as everyone in the venue would have a toast for every slam dunk and four-point basket.

That was accompanied by cheers and oohs-and-aahs by everyone as food and drinks were served way before the tip-off with the interesting All-Star side events.

As fans, athletes and celebrities dapped it up like they were basketball teammates in the pre-events, Northport’s JM Calma ruled the Obstacle Challenge.

Meralco’s Raymond Almazan reigned in the historic Three-Point Shootout for Big Men, a replacement sidelight for the centerpiece Slam Dunk Contest due to the injuries of participants, while Talk ‘N Text’s Calvin Oftana rose as the new king of the staple Three-Point Shootout.

Die-hard fans, athletes, social media influencers and celebrities graced the event led by Arena Plus Branding Head Lynn Cong as the heat and hype from the dazzling All-Star Weekend at the City of Smiles sent shockwaves to the acropolis for a similar PBA atmosphere.

Among those were UAAP player Seven Gagate from the University of the Philippines and PVL stalwart Joy Dacoron from Petro Gazz along with celebrities Arabella del Rosario and Baileys Acot, model Lawrence Lopez and former sports courtside reporter Aiyanna Perlas from UP.

Arena Plus Live Astig Girl and Tiktok sensation Margaux Nonato, celebrity DJ Jimmy Nocon, sports analysts Sports Papi and Nicho Rocha, TV host Andrei Felix also joined the fray in the starry Watch Party hosted by courtside reporter Pauline Versoza and DJ Mike Lavet.

The fun event, also organized by the Arena Plus Branding team featuring Danny Zhou, Gracie Gwen, Diolo Patrick Parducho and Joanna Marie Santos, would snowball on Sunday for the main event of the All-Star Weekend that ended up with a draw.

NLEX’s Robert Bolick fired an and-one, five-point play, from the new four-point area for added spice, as Team Mark Barroca, coached by San Miguel mentor Jorge Gallent, forced a 140-all stalemate with Team Japeth Aguilar mentored by Ginebra tactician Tim Cone.

It’s the first All-Star Game draw since 2017 when Gilas Pilipinas and the Mindanao All-Stars settled for a tie at 114 all in Cagayan de Oro.

Back in 2008, however, the PBA All-Star Game also in Bacolod City ended with a 149-all score for a possible draw but the league heeded the fans’ call for an overtime that resulted in a 163-158 win for the South All-Stars over the North All-Stars with PJ Simon then winning the MVP award.

It’s the same All-Star host city this time around but a different result as all became winners in the City of Smiles.

Unknowingly, the PBA brought smiles and joy throughout the archipelago with one of its best All-Star Games in history – if not the best.

And that includes the small group at the Social House for the first – but definitely not the last – Arena Plus PBA All-Star Watch Party.

That makes it a Country of Smiles, right?

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