After spending the last 2 years as a practice player, everything seemed like a blur these days for Barangay Ginebra Fil-American wingman Franklin Bonifacio.
Just 2 weeks after cracking the regular roster of the Gin Kings for the PBA Governors Cup for the first time in his pro career, the 6-foot-2 Bonifacio was surprised to see his name in the list that will challenge reigning Slam Dunk champion Rey Guevara this Friday in the All-Star Week.
“First, I’m nervous when the list first came out because everything just happened so fast for me,” Bonifacio told FOX Sports on Tuesday.
“I got in the lineup, and then I’m in the All-Star (Slam Dunk) competition. It’s like, ‘Am I really in the PBA yet?’ So I feel like everything happened so fast, so I feel it’s a big opportunity for me, even if it’s just a dunk competition.”
The 6-foot-2 Fil-Am from Los Positas Junior College has played 2 games so far in the season-ending conference, averaging 1.0 point in 3.0 minutes.
“I think you see me more as a practice player for 2 years and here we go with all these attention,” said Bonifacio, who recorded 33.46 inches in standing vertical leap and the maximum vertical leap of 64.31 inches during the 2014 PBA Draft Combine.
“But I’m just thankful for coach Tim (Cone) for being patient with me and teaching me, and yeah, been an amazing feeling with my teammates teasing me for this All-Star,” he added.
“I’m excited and yes, pretty cool because not a lot would get to do this so I might as well take advantage of it,” added the 26-year-old guard/forward, who went undrafted in 2014.
The field of competition will be tough because aside from Guevara, challengers for the dunk contest includes TNT’s Moala Tautuaa, Meralco’s Chris Newsome and NLEX’s James Forrester.
Bonifacio said over the past days, his two Ginebra teammates Japeth Aguilar and Chris Ellis, who previously joined the Slam Dunk competition, has been giving him a lot of tips and ideas heading into the premiere side show.
For his part, Bonifacio said he’s been watching a variety of NBA slam dunk videos and past PBA dunk contests.
But one thing is sure, the Ginebra Fil-Am vowed to come out with some dunks that haven’t been done in the PBA, not since the time of 5-time Slam Dunk king Nino “KG” Canaleta, a former Gin King, who now plays for Mahindra.
“Maybe never been seen and hasn’t been done in the PBA recently but I think I already saw KG do it long time ago, but KG is 6-6 and I’m just 6-2, so maybe I’ll look good (doing it),” he said. – Richard Dy
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Photo taken from Franklin Bonifacio’s Instagram account @fboomshakalaka