There are fun basketball moments that make me go, “Oh shiiit!”—either out loud to the person next to me or to my 500 followers on Twitter. A two-handed tip dunk from June Mar Fajardo or a slick reverse from LA Tenorio are moves that might elicit such a reaction.
Then there are those fun moments that make me cover my mouth in awe, shake my head in disbelief, close my eyes in appreciation, and utter a soft and holy “wow” in thanks to the basketball gods. For these kinds of rare, divine moments, there are two that are simply a joy to watch: the Spider-Man Dunk from Arwind Santos and the Kalawit Rebound from Scottie Thompson.
The question is: which one is more fun?
Is it Arwind’s signature dunk, with his lanky frame, hanging on to the rim with both hands, leaving a stamp of his shoe on the backboard, then shooting imaginary web ala Spider-Man into the crowd?
Or is it Scottie’s signature rebound, with his 6-foot-1 frame, slithering into the basket, leaping over giants, then activating an imaginary magnetic field to grab the basketball with one hand?
To get to the bottom of this, there are a couple of things we need to unpack: the Angas Factor, Crowd Reaction, Illegal Nature, Disrespect Level, and Game-Changing Element—all of which are telltale signs of any fun thing, whether basketball-related or otherwise.
Scottie Thompson, as if we have to keep on hammering home the point, is only 6-foot-1. He shouldn’t have ranked third in the league in rebounds in the 2018 Philippine Cup with 11 per game, behind 6-foot-6 JP Erram’s 14 rpg and 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo’s 13 rpg. He has no business skying over a 6-foot-10, 290-pound Reggie Johnson for a Kalawit Rebound. There’s no way he could be averaging 6 rebounds a game in a Finals series against a team that has Santos, Fajardo, Christian Standhardinger, and Renaldo Balkman. Yet here we are. Scottie Thompson’s “Anong Height Mo?” brand of rebounding has all the angas that—
[The intro to Bagyo plays]
[Arwind, in neon green socks, shoots web while hanging on the rim almost upside down after a dunk]
OK. Arwind’s Spider-Man Dunk wins the Angas Factor.
Arwind whipping out the Spider-Man Dunk is a polarizing moment that gets a mix of cheers and boos. Scottie pulling down a rebound kalawit-style, on the other hand, gets a mix of ooh and aahs and four-letter words spewed to express bewilderment. This is usually followed by the earthshaking, soul-crushing chant from Barangay Ginebra.
As long as Scottie is wearing a Ginebra Ako jersey, he will always win the crowd.
Scottie’s kalawit rebounds are illegal, in the sense that he shouldn’t have been allowed to average more boards in his first two years as a pro (6.7 rpg) than the PBA’s best rebounding guard and Ginebra deity, Robert Jaworski (6.5 rpg).
But Arwind hanging on to the rim long enough for him to get both legs up and stomp both feet on the backboard and pose as Spidey is a move that’s just ridiculously illegal. And fun.
My problem with the Spider-Man Dunk is that a lot of things should align for it to work. It has to be a breakaway. There has to be room to take off. San Miguel shouldn’t be down 20. Arwind’s Spider-Man Dunk is deliberate and planned and electrifying, but you already know it’s coming, like how The Rock painstakingly sets up The People’s Elbow.
Scottie’s Kalawit Rebound, meanwhile, is a quick and unexpected jolt of energy like the Stone Cold Stunner (minus the dirty finger). For it to work, Scottie will just have to get to the paint, ninja-style (a skill he’s so good at), and…levitate. That’s game-changing. Maybe even life-changing.
Scottie’s Kalawit Rebound, the act alone, is disrespectful based on the factors mentioned above. The signature move has no regard for human height and defies the laws of common sense. But it lacks something, something to put extra spice in the moment. Something to remind the opponent of the heist.
Arwind has that covered by “shooting” web from his wrist. Eric Salamat has The Salute, where he salutes the crowd every time he scores. Beau Belga has The Shotgun, where he cocks and fires an imaginary shotgun to the crowd after a made 3. Calvin Abueva has the chibog/nganga taunt. Arwind has The Web Shooter, a pure alpha male move, an IDGAF move only a 37-year-old former MVP would dare attempt.
It’s so disrespectful that it makes the Spider-Man Dunk more fun than the Kalawit Rebound.
On a per game basis, the Ginebra-San Miguel Finals series have been disgustingly uneven so far, as if both teams are playing 2K but one controller is busted. But at least we still have a best-of-3 series left, a looming Game 7, and a couple of hotheads. We also have the fun signature moves of Arwind Santos and Scottie Thompson. We will always have that.