Basketball fans across southeast Manitoba and Winnipeg gathered in Steinbach for hoops, music, entertainment and community last Saturday.  

Prairie Basketball League (PBL) held their first All-Star Weekend at Steinbach Regional Secondary School.  

League Commissioner Abram Razon is grateful for the turnout.  

“It turned out to be pretty much exactly what we'd hoped for. Packed gym, a lot of people, not just from the community, but mainly from Winnipeg as well since we had some visiting teams from there,” Razon explains.  

He says there were “no seats left for two to three hours.”  

“It is a shock but also not a shock to us,” he says. “It's a shock in the way that it was really nice day out. Usually, people prefer to be outside, at the lake, for those kinds of days. We've seen that happen with the regular season games, but this Saturday was definitely a different story.” 

There was no shortage of entertainment on Saturday, which featured six all-star games, a three-point shootout and a slam dunk competition.  

PBL Women's DivisionPBL's Women's Division All-Star team and St. Boniface University Women's team. (Bruce Gasmeña)

The top 20 players from the Junior and High School divisions were split into teams and played against each other. On the other hand, the Women’s, Seniors 35 and above, Open Elite and All-Filipino all-star division teams matched up against university and club teams from Winnipeg.  

Out of all the events, he says the slam dunk contest was a highlight of the day.  

"Probably the most hyped event of the evening, and mainly kudos to those who participated. Just made it a lot of fun for us to watch and be a part of,” he says.  

With the lively crowd and excitement surrounding the events, he adds the weekend reminded him of “home.”  

“I always like to describe it as it felt just like how it is back home in the Philippines with the passion for basketball and really, in this case, just all of the community coming together and just on their seats clapping for everybody," he explains.

PBL Open Elite All-StarsPBL Open Elite All-Stars with Commissioner Abram Razon, top row and third from left. (Bruce Gasmeña)

Razon thanks the community and beyond for coming and packing the gym.  

“You know, we also got a lot of thank yous from the visiting teams and basically telling us you have the best fans in Manitoba, so thank you guys for coming out,”  he says.

The spring league playoffs start this weekend, with semifinal games happening Saturday and Sunday. The championship games will be on Saturday, July 17, at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School.  

While the spring season is ending, Razon says they will still have events happening throughout the summer, including exposure camps for youth and exhibition games.  

The community can stay updated with PBL news and events through their Facebook and Instagram pages and website, 

With files from Kenton Dyck.

Check out this video of Lorence Dela Cruz's dunk:

@steinbach_online Lorence Dela Cruz (@Lorence dela Cruz) gets the crowd on their feet at Prairie Basketball League’s All-Star Weekend #basketball #dunk #allstar #hops #hoops #lorencedelacruz #winnipeg #steinbach ♬ original sound - SteinbachOnline