Slam dunk? Who else, but Ellis
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2013 - 12:00am

DIGOS CITY , Philippines   â€“ Barangay Ginebra rookie Chris Ellis succeeded KG Canaleta as Sultan of Slams and Rain or Shine’s Chris Tiu capped the freshmen’s day in topping the Three-Point Shootout in the PBA All-Star Skills Events at the Davao del Sur Coliseum here last night.

Ellis, as expected, dished out the most artistic aerial show, outperforming teammate Elmer Espiritu, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva, Petron’s Arwind Santos and Meralco’s Cliff Hodge to rule the jam session.

Tiu, meanwhile, distinguished himself the new shootout king, dethroning three-time ruler Mark Macapagal with a record-matching performance.

Barako Bull’s Jonas Villanueva carried the torch for the old timers in topping the Obstacle Challenge for a record fourth straight time.

Getting a good feel of the ball in a shooting practice after a taping of his “Tiu-torial” show at the Genesis 88 gym in Davao City in the morning, Tiu shot hot rounds of 17 (elims) and 21 points (finals) and thus became the league’s first rookie Three-Point Shootout champ after Jasper Ocampo in 1998 and Jimmy Alapag in 2003.

The former Ateneo and Gilas Pilipinas hotshot made four of five money balls to highlight his final-round score, matching the record previously done by Allan Caidic in 1991, William Antonio in 2006 and James Yap in 2009.

“My shooting practice in the morning really helped. I hadn’t touched the ball since we’re eliminated by Ginebra (in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals),” said Tiu, a two-time Three-Point Shootout champ in the collegiate wars.

Canaleta, the former five-time Slam Dunk titlist looking to become only the second player (after Willie Miller) to win two different All-Stars skills events, narrowly missed the feat in placing second to Tiu in the shootout.

He collected 18 points before Tiu blazed past him with 21. Jayvee Casio wound up third with 14.

Macapagal yielded the crown after firing away only 11 in the elims, the same scores submitted by Miller, Marcio Lassiter and Josh Urbiztondo. James Yap, with a sore back, ended up last with just eight.

Ellis wowed them in the jam session, becoming the fifth player to win the event in their freshman year after Vergel Meneses in 1998, Joey Mente in 2001, Brandon Cablay in 2003 and Gabe Norwood in 2009.

The 6-foot-4 Ginebra forward drew a pair of perfect 50s in the elims with a jaw-dropping cradle slam and a windmill finish of a ball he picked up from a floor bounce.

He failed to sustain a perfect run as he completed a 360-degree one-handed throw-down only on his fourth try for 44 points.

And Espiritu threatened to steal the crown on a high bounce off the floor that he finished with an authoritative two-hander for 45 points.

The 6-foot-3 UE product, however, self-destructed in the second round of the finale, caught by the one-minute mark without a conversion.

Still, Ellis provided a fitting climax by performing a Vince Carter stuff. He drew a 49 as he caught a lob by Hodge in mid-air, slammed it in and hung in the rim for a few seconds by his forearm.

It was one of the most artistic PBA slam-dunk contests in years, a good aperitif to the All-Star Sunday culminated by the All-Star Game pitting Gilas Pilipinas and a PBA select team.

Villanueva retained the distinction as the league’s most skillful player, also making history as the first four-time winner of the Obstacle Challenge.

Though coming off an injury, the six-foot Barako Bull guard beat all comers in the skills showcase, completing the routine with the best times in both the elimination round and in the finale.

“I just gave my best,” said Villanueva, clocking 27.2 seconds in the elims and 26.3 in the medal play.

Meanwhile, playing-coach Kenneth Duremdes, a proud Mindanaoan from the nearby South Cotabato, came through with a game-high 19 points on top of nine rebounds and three assists as Team Stalwarts outfought Team Greats, 112-105, in the Legends Game.

Mark Macapagal knocked in five of 11 three-point attempts also for 19 points, Jervy Cruz grabbed 20 rebounds and added 16 points while Ronald Tubid and Willie Miller chipped in 18 and 16 markers, respectively, for the Stalwarts who showed up the Greats, including Jerry Codiñera, Vince Hizon, Bong Hawkins, Rodney Santos and Johnedel Cardel.

Before this All-Stars, Villanueva shared with Miller the record as the most winningest players in the event with three titles each.

Ellis nearly made it a double-kill placing second in the Obstacle Challenge.

Ellis, starting and finishing his routine with a dunk, and Talk n Text sophomore Pamboy Raymundo, slowly but surely executing the tricks, provided the biggest challenge in the elims, clocking 28.9 and 32.8, respectively.

Ellis (28.1) and Raymundo (30.3) improved their times in the finale but so did Villanueva, who blazed his way to 26.3, surpassing his winning time of 31.3 last year.

Out after the elims were Casio (35.6), Hodge (35.1), Air21’s Simon Atkins (38.6), Willie Miller (38.9), Ronald Tubid (60), Paul Lee (39.3) and Mark Barroca (36.7).

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