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Sep 09, 2020

Charity three-point shootout brings back to mind Al Solis' feat

The names of Jimmy Alapag, Allan Caidic and Ronnie Magsanoc easily pop up as three-point shooting is a current topic in Philippine basketball circle with the PBA now holding a Three-Point Shootout Charity Virtual Tournament.

Dondon Hontiveros, James Yap and Al Solis are also being mentioned, with these guys making the elite cast of PBA players who have breached the 1,000 mark in career three-points made.
All were known great guns from their collegiate days, except one of them.

Solis would be the first one to admit he didn't know how to shoot from afar back in his days at the University of Visayas in the Cebu collegiate league.

"Si Boy Cabahug talaga ang shooter namin; ako slasher. Ang laro ko court-to-court, fastbreak at open court. Pag binigyan ako ng one step opening, layup na yan," said Solis in his appearance in The Link podcast of veteran sportswwriter Rey Joble Wednesday.

"Na-realize ko lang na kailangan kong matutong tumira sa labas noong naglaro na ako sa Manila," added Solis, recalling his early days in the defunct PABL.
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"Inaatrasan ako ng depensa, nagsa-sag down; alam nila wala akong tira sa labas. Pero kahit atrasan ako, drive pa rin ako. So lagi akong foul out, kasi ang galing ng mga Manila players mag-draw charge. And so ang sabi ko sa sarili ko, kailangan kong matuto tumira sa labas."

Eventually learning the art of three-point shooting and combining it with his great ability to blow by defenders in driving to the basket, Solis became a lethal force in his prime years in the PBA, especially with RFM-Swift under coach Yeng Guiao.

Those days with Swift were the best moments in his 14-year PBA career, seeing him win championships and crack the PBA Mythical First Five in 1992 and 1993.

"Actually, MVP contender ako along with Ato Agustin and Nelson Asaytono noong 1992. Nakuha ni Ato at third ako in the race," said Solis.

Unfortunately, a major injury ate up most of his 1995 season and by 1996, he moved to Pepsi/Mobiline where he spent the waning years of his career.
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Through 2000, his ride as a Phone Pal was over and he's barely out of the 1,000-three-pointer club.

Coming in to give him a chance to reach the plateau was Guiao.

"Pinaglaro ako sa Red Bull for one conference in 2001. Lumalaro ako mga two minutes a game.

Then came a non-bearing game against Sta. Lucia Realty. Five three-point shots na lang ang kailangan ko, pinalaro ako ng mataas na minute, at inabot ko ang mark," said Solis of the memorable night making him only the third PBA player to make a career 1,000th three-point conversion after Caidic and Magsanoc, to be followed later by Alapag, Hontiveros and Yap.

To this day, they're the league's Sweet Six Three-Point Gunners. (SB)