Barangay Ginebra forward KG Canaleta won his fifth title in the PBA Slam Dunk contest, but not before turning back a tough challenge from B-MEG high-flyer JC Intal in the finals.
Canaleta clinched his title by jumping over three men, including 6-foot-9 Meralco center Asi Taulava, in his final dunk, which judges scored a perfect 50. He also scored a 50 in his first final round dunk, which he made by dunking over a man.
After his dunk, Canaleta said that dunking over Taulava wasn’t exactly the plan.
“Hindi siya dapat kasali, pero hindi siya umalis kaya tinamaan ko tuloy,” said Canaleta. “He was supposed to video the dunk, pero nag-stay siya, pero sabi ko bahala na.”
The former UE star needed the perfect score to edge out JC Intal, who stepped up his game in the finals of the competition. Intal’s scored 49 in his first finals dunk, a furious windmill, before nailing a difficult one-handed 360 for his second dunk for a perfect score.
Rain or Shine swingman Gabe Norwood, the 2009 champion of the competition, started out early, scoring two perfect dunks in the preliminary round with a reverse dunk off a bounce and a two-handed jam off the glass. But he seemed to feel the pressure in the finals, scoring 45 points on a two-handed reverse off a bounce and 48 points on a dunk from behind the backboard.
Intal, who opted to join the competition despite nursing an ankle injury, opened his campaign by dunking without shoes, earning him 44 points, before taking an alleyoop from Josh Urbiztondo from the stands, which got 46 points from the judges.
Canaleta, meanwhile, brought the house down with a one-handed dunk off a bounce that earned 50 points with his first attempt, before opting for a safe dunk with his second attempt that earned him 40 points.
Also in the competition were Elmer Espiritu of Air 21, who opened the competition with an impressive two-handed 360 dunk which he completed after three attempts (41 points) before settling for a simple one-hander for his second dunk (35 points); and Petron Blaze superstar Arwind Santos, a late addition, who earned 46 points for a difficult 360 dunk from the baseline and 42 points for a reverse “Spider-Man” slam.
Canaleta said this will be his last Slam Dunk contest.
“Hindi naman sa pagmamayabang, pero sa tingin ko wala nang dapat pang i-prove, parang hindi na rin tama,” said Canaleta in jest. “Siguro mag-concentrate na lang ako sa three-point shootout, kasi hindi na rin tayo bumabata, 30 years old na kasi ako.”