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PBA: Ellis is New Slam Dunk King

Tiu crowned new 3-Point King

Digos City — Ginebra turned the Slam Dunk Contest into a family affair with Chris Ellis joining an elite club of first-time winner even as Rain or Shine Chris Tiu made a strong statement in the PBA All-Star Week at the Sports, Cultural and Business Center of Davao Del Sur here.

While Tiu easily crowned himself the new 3-Point King, Ellis survived a strong challenge by teammate Elmer Espiritu to earn the nod of the judges.

Ellis, the Kings’ No. 4 overall pick in last year’s PBA Rookie Draft, was actually behind by a point after the first round of the finals – 45-44 – as it took him four tries before he finally completed his attempt – a reverse windmill dunk from the baseline.

Espiritu, who went first in the finals, had 45 points with a simple bounce before catching the ball at mid-air for a two-handed dunk.

The former Slam Dunk champion in his college days at the University of the East, Espiritu blew his chances of winning the title when he failed to complete a tough trick in his second round dunk.
In that play, San Mig Coffee’s Mark Barroca threw the ball from the lower box section to the court intended for Espiritu but the 6-foot-4 forward failed to execute the trick after several tries.
The final dunk of Ellis, which merited 49 points from the judges, including Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, was assisted by Meralco’s Cliff Hodge, whose lob pass under the basket was caught by Ellis in mid-air.

To the delight of the crowd, Ellis threw down the ball with his right arm nearly inside the basket.
“It was fun competing against these guys. I’m just happy to win it,” said the soft spoken Ellis, who had two perfect dunks in the eliminations – the cradle dunk popularized by Michael Jordan and a bounce to the backboard windmill.

Ellis became the fifth rookie player to win the Slam Dunk contest, joining Vergel Meneses (1992), Joey Mente (2001), Brandon Cablay (2003) and Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood (2009). Ellis pocketed P20,000 for winning the event.

Tiu, on the other hand, was just the third freshman to capture the event as he collected 21 points in the finals round, beating Air2 veteran Rommel Canaleta and Alaska’s JV Casio who had 18 and 14 points, respectively.

Tiu, the No. 7 overall pick of the Elasto Painters in the previous PBA Rookie Draft, also topped the elimination round of the contest with 17 points.

Aside from Tiu, who also won P20,000, the other rookies who won the event during thei te were Jasper Ocampo (1998) and Talk ’N Text’s Jimmy Alapag (2003). The 21 points of Tiu also tied the record in the Three-Point Shootout finals, matching the effort of Allan Caidic (1991), Will Antonio (2006) and James Yap (2009).

In the Obstacle Challenge, Barako Bull point guard Jonas Villanueva retained the title for the fourth straight time after a flawless round as he completed the course with no mistake both in the elims round and final. (Waylon Galvez)

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