CEBU CITY — For the second year in a row, fans expecting a thrill in the Cesafi Slam Dunk Competition were left disappointed, no thanks to odd rules that kept participants from truly showcasing their aerial artistry.
The University of Cebu’s JR Puerto was declared winner, but fans and players alike were less than thrilled after being denied what would have been a thrilling showdown featuring Rey Suerte of the University of the Visayas, University of San Jose-Recoletos’ Miguel Gastador and University of San Carlos’ Conrad Catapusan.
Much like last year, league officials gave the participants an attempt each, with missed dunks automatically given a score of 30. This meant simple slams from the four participants as they avoided getting eliminated early.
“We didn’t want to try new styles for fear of missing and getting eliminated. That’s why we all just had simple dunks just so we can make it to the next round,” said Suerte, who made it to the finals but lost after trying out a difficult reverse slam.
Gastador, the crowd favorite, failed to make it to the finals after missing a left-handed tomahawk try in his second dunk of the elimination round. He got so incensed with the proceedings that he grabbed the ball and threw down an incredible one-handed 360 as officials were deliberating who would advance to the championship round.
“It’s just frustrating since the dunkers were all hesitant and just made sure to make easy dunks. Should I still join next year if they still have the same rules?” said a dejected Gastador.
The contest’s odd rules were not lost on basketball fans and observers who commented with a mixture of jest and criticism.
“If they just wanted easy dunks, I should have just joined. I could have won!” said UV forward Monic Soliva with a hearty laugh.
“Worst slam dunk contest ever,” added former Cesafi player Matt Oche.
“This is really disappointing. The dunkers are not being given a chance to show off,” said Leonard Santillan, last year’s winner who is now serving residency for the La Salle Green Archers.
University of Southern Philippines Foundation’s Roy Quiachon also said the league should have learned from last year’s fiasco.
“Didn’t they learn from what happened last year? Simple one-handed and two-handed dunks are being given scores of 9 and 10? I am not entertained. What is important to them is made dunks even though the styles are being repeated.”