SAN Mig's high-leaping rookie Justin Melton broke free from all the defenders and soared for what appeared to be another crowd-pleasing, momentum-swinging alley-oop dunk.
From out of nowhere came Chris Tiu who came charging at the airborne Melton and paid the price, drawing gasps from the crowd when he landed awkwardly on the Big Dome floor after the scary midair collision
Tiu, however, picked himself up quickly and walked away, with nary a grimace.
That single play showed Tiu, the former Ateneo star from an affluent family with the boy-next-door looks who also happen to be one of the biggest celebrity endorsers in the country, is not afraid to mix it up when he had to.
Watch a video of that play on YouTube:
However, the Rain or Shine sophomore pointed out that he was not out to hurt Melton in the play but merely did his best to stop an alley-oop dunk, pointing out that San Mig was already up, 41-34, at that point and the last thing the Painters needed was another highlight play from the San Mig rookie.
"I think San Mig was having a run at that time. If he (Melton) threw down that alley-oop dunk that would have brought the house down and really shifted the momentum," said the former Gilas standout.
"So for me, championship 'to eh, no easy points. My thinking was to challenge him, stop his alley-oop and make him earn his two points in the free throw line," Tiu added.
Rain or Shine managed to keep the game close from thereon, only to fire blanks near the end and drop a 90-93 loss and fall behind 1-3 in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
But both Tiu and Rain or Shine have since bounced back with a vengeance, staying alive with an 81-74 victory in Game Five that saw the former Blue Eagle score nine points to go with three rebounds and two assists.
Tiu looked like an odd fit in a scrappy and physical Rain or Shine squad when he was taken in the first round of last season's rookie draft, but the PBA's newest poster boy pointed out that such was not the case.
Since high school, the pro player turned TV host said he has never been afraid of contact on the court, compensating for his lack of athleticism with hard work, hustle, and defense on the floor.
"Ever since high school, college I play hard kasi hindi ako athletic, hindi ko masasabayan sa talunan 'yan mga 'yan eh," Tiu said. "So I have to move my feet, take charges, take the offensive fouls and prevent them from getting easy shots.
"So I use my body, I play hard, iba naman 'yung magiging madumi sa physical. So para sa akin, lalo na kay coach Yeng (Guiao), hindi pwede 'yung lalambot lambot. Trabahuhin nila yung points niya."