Rookies Ellis, Tiu steal showBy Musong R. Castillo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
DIGOS, Davao del Sur—Chris Ellis, Barangay Ginebra’s creative high-flyer, won the PBA All-Star Week’s Slam Dunk title as expected—but worked hard to pull it off last night.
Ellis came up with some spectacular dunks and clinched it with an impersonation of Vince Carter’s 2000 throwdown with the entire forearm inside the rim without pressure after Ginebra teammate and final-round leader Elmer Espiritu failed to convert on his second try.
“This one’s dedicated to (former PBA star) Samboy Lim,” Ellis told the panel of judges, moments before he drilled a rock-a-bye baby dunk coming from the right side of the rim that netted him the first of two perfect 50 scores in the eliminations at the packed Davao del Sur Coliseum here.
Ellis, who later bounced the ball off the backboard for his second try, catching it in mid-air before flushing it down after a windmill, became the second rookie to triumph in this year’s side events.
Rain or Shine freshman Chris Tiu ruled the Three-Point Shootout, tying the all-time mark of 21 points in the Finals after knocking down all but one of five money balls. He fended off KG Canaleta of Air21 (18) and JV Casio of Alaska (13).
Sharing the limelight with the two upcoming stars was Jonas Villanueva of Barako Bull, who clocked 26.3 seconds in a perfect run to rule the Obstacle Challenge over Ellis (28.1) and Pamboy Raymundo of Talk ‘N Text (30.3).
Ellis, incidentally, became just the fifth rookie to win the Slam Dunk after Vergel Meneses in 1992, Joey Mente in 2001, Brandon Cablay in 2003 and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine four years ago.
Tiu followed Jasper Ocampo, who won in 1998, and Jimmy Alapag of Talk ‘N Text in 2003, as rookies to win the Three-Point Shootout.
Villanueva’s time in the Obstacle Challenge was also the second fastest in the event’s history after Willie Miller’s 25.5 seconds in 2008 in Bacolod. Miller’s record of winning different side events —he was also a Three-Point champion—was preserved when Tiu defeated Canaleta, the former five-time Slam Dunk King.
Espiritu scored 45 points in his first try in the final round while Ellis needed four tries to complete his first attempt for 44 points.
The centerpiece event of this year’s classic happens tomorrow when Gilas-Pilipinas battles a PBA All-Star Selection at 6 p.m.