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2 hardcourt heartthrobs nix lure of show biz

/ 12:35 AM December 04, 2018

PJ Simon and Chris Banchero

In our basketball-crazy country, a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) best-of-seven tourney is somewhat like a box-office hit movie. The 2018 PBA Governor’s Cup Finals battle between Magnolia Hotshots and Alaska Aces kicks off on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena. Will Magnolia make Alaska cry over spilled milk, or will Alaska make Magnolia chicken out?

As a Christmas treat to basketball fans, I am featuring Chris Banchero (who’s half-Italian) of the Aces and PJ Simon of the Hotshots. Both hardcourt heartthrobs are movie-star material, if only they would change court and give show biz a try.

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Here’s my chat with Chris and PJ:

Are you willing to join show biz?

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 Chris (C): I don’t think so. I’m happy with where I am in my basketball career. I have friends in show biz, and I know the hours they work. It’s a very tough job on- and offscreen. I would much rather be behind the camera calling the plays.

PJ (P): Not at all. Even if we, PBA players, are celebs in our own right, I can’t handle the intrigues in show biz. I would rather have a simple life when I retire from the professional league.

In what ways are you Italian and Pinoy?

C: My love for fashion and cooking comes from my Italian side, while my Filipino side shows in my love for the beach and basketball.

What’s the craziest thing a fan did for you?

P: The surprise birthday party of my Simonatics Fans Club, where they flashed highlights of my games on a huge LED screen in Eastwood.

How do you handle victory and defeat?

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C: My dad always told me to “never get too high on the highs or too low on the lows.” That advice helped me keep a steady head, and continue to grow regardless of the outcome.

P: I try to stay humble in victory and not be discouraged by defeat.

What’s the toughest part of playing against Magnolia/Alaska?

C: The Hotshots move the basketball well and are unselfish. On defense, they have great “pressure guys” and also a tall backline.

P: The Aces have tremendous chemistry and a great import.

How do you handle hecklers and bad calls of referees?

C: Keep it moving. It’s all part of the game.

P: Just go with the next play. Move forward.

If you were to choose your PBA moniker, what would it be?

P: In PBA, they call me the “Scoring Apostle.” But if I were to choose, it would be the “Pride of Makilala, North Cotabato.” So, in a way, my kababayans will also be acknowledged.

PERSONAL: Thanks a mil to pangyao John Tong, sis Rose Aquino,  Chanel de Luna, Jie Vidal, JP Palustre, Baba Gozum and John “Kimchi” Yao for an epic weekend.

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TAGS: Chris Banchero, Dollywood, PBA, PJ Simon
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