Despite having Skills right there in the name of the event, the Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, or P-Skills as he is sometimes known, was unable to make his way to the trophy in the All-Star Saturday Night Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Siakam lost by a hair in the second round to the eventual champ, the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo.
As the opening event of All-Star Saturday Night, the Skills Challenge got off to an auspiscious start after the broadcast threw to an unprepared Isiah Thomas to set the table on the event. I don’t think he had much of an idea as to how the bracket was to be organized, but was, in any event, rooting heavily for the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, a winner in 2015. How fitting then, that Beverley would take to the opening around against Siakam — and quickly lose.
Siakam’s second round opponent was Adebayo, who came flying out of the first round after taking down defending champion Spencer Dinwiddie. A player like Dinwiddie is favoured in all-around events like this, but Bam had the ball on a string — and sunk his first three in that opening round with casual and terrifying ease. He unfortunately did the same thing against Siakam. Both big men missed their first attempts, but Adebayo was able to put in his second before Siakam got his off, and that was that. (Here’s hoping Pascal gets the chance at some payback in the playoffs.)
Many smiles and hugs were exhanged before (and after) Bam would go on to take on Domantas Sabonis in a surprisingly tight final round. Adebayo would take him down too — much to the disappointment, I’m sure, of Sabonis’ dad Arvydas — to claim the trophy. It all made for a nice story, with Dwyane Wade on the broadcast cheering him on. And it provided a funny final image too, with the COO of Taco Bell, looking for all the world like a recent customer of Taco Bell, presenting Bam with the winning trophy.
Now, on to the three-point and dunk contest!