10 PLAYERS THAT SHOULD HAVE PLAYED IN A PBA ALL-STAR GAME

Updated: Nov 14




I first made this blog in 2019.


And I wanted to update this blog.


These names have seen action in the side events.


BUT…


The All-Star main event is designed to recognize the top players of that point of the season. This is why I hate how they conduct the voting. If expansion drafts have a “protect eight” rule, then these games must also have some kind of regulation. To say a player is an All-Star but said player barely gets 15 minutes of play is just absurd.

EXCLUDED FROM THE LIST


I will not include former PBA MVP Ricky Brown on this list because the All-Star Games are not a yearly thing during his tenure. Ditto for 1-time Mythical First Teamer and Fil-Am OG Willie Pearson! Bruisers like Ricky Relosa, Padim Israel, and Joy Carpio were at the tail end of their careers when the All-Stars became an annual spectacle so they are also taken off the list.


Rene Canent is also excluded because even if there were incarnations of All-Star events during his time, they were not official All-Star events.


I will also exclude the active players.


I mean most active players.




15 | CHRIS TIU


1-time PBA Champion

6.0ppg | 2.3rpg | 2.3apg


Chicks dig dudes that look decent when sweaty. I don't know this... but apparently, there is an audience for this. Vince Hizon and Richie Ticzon fall under this category... and there is another Ateneo Blue Eagle that fits the bill as well. You can't go any mainstream than Chris Tiu. After playing sidekick to Manny Pacquiao in Pinoy Records, Tiu has turned into a long-running knowledge show host, and once upon a time, he had a show wherein he does things like what Norman Black did in the late 80s (you have been TIU-torized). And Tiu isn't just a pretty face. He is the Smart-Gilas team captain whose impact paved the way for the current Gilas Pilipinas incarnation. Sure, he had a short PBA career (mostly due to the fact that he came in late) and Yeng Guiao's system in Rain or Shine may have limited his growth... but this star should have been an all-star!



14 | JOLLY ESCOBAR


2-time PBA Champion

5.0ppg | 4.2rpg | 11 seasons


If you are a bonafide Shell fan, I bet you know the team’s other bald-headed big man. Picked ahead of Bong Ravena, Kevin Ramas, and Bonel Balingit and picked behind Vergel Meneses and Bong Solomon, the third overall pick of the 1992 PBA Draft had a lengthy stint with the squad as their other imposing force in the middle. When Benjie Paras got injured, Jolly E manned Shell’s frontline. With that said, Escobar also spent time on the sidelines. I guess this is another reason why he never got to play in the event. During his prime, a bunch of bruisers like Sonny Cabatu, Wilmer Ong, Cris Bolado, and Jack Tanuan had All-Star stints. If they managed to squeeze on this list, then Jolly Escobar should have scored an entry.



13 | NANING VALENCIANO


1-time PBA Champion

8.4ppg | 11 seasons


If a 90s team was in need of a budget version of Allan Caidic and to their dismay, Al Solis and Elmer Cabahug were unavailable, then Naning Valenciano is the next best thing. And no, I am not dissing the southern sharpshooter. I mean, Naning Valenciano is one of the most dangerous snipers of his time and at one point spearheaded the Pepsi Hotshots’ attack (I once rooted for Pepsi/7-Up at one point). Sure, Valenciano had his best years playing for down and out squads but through the years, we had the likes of John Ferriols, Reynel Hugnatan, and Peter June Simon gain All-Star spots. This is why if the North versus South All-Star format was available in the 90s, Valenciano could have made the All-Star roster.



12 | LEO ISAAC


4-time PBA Champion

6.9PPG | 9 seasons


If Robert Jaworski is seen by many as our version of Magic Johnson, then Leo Isaac is our version of Byron Scott. From the get-go, it felt as if Isaac is placed in the Ginebra starting lineup to make life easier for The Living Legend. Isaac did what was needed to get the job done and barely strayed off the plays. Isaac could have been an All-Star but just his luck, Jawo, Chito Loyzaga, Dante Gonzalgo, Joey Loyzaga, and Dondon Ampalayo were the ones getting the invites. Also, the Ginebra championship machine was slowly going offline when the all-star game became a yearly happening. A popular player in his own right, Isaac should have had that recognition. And really, who can ever forget his armpit-smelling free throw?

11 | ART DELA CRUZ


3-time PBA All-Defensive First Team

7-time PBA Champion

5.3PPG | 10 seasons


It was a chore to push this former San Sebastian Stag out of his comfort zone. And while most of his shots were scored inside the shaded area, Art Dela Cruz specializes in destroying dreams… especially if your dream is to beat him on the boards. I remember a Finals series where Art Dela Cruz and Poch Juinio would score fighting foul after fighting foul. This tough customer helped the San Miguel Beermen to seven championships. I know defensive specialists take a backseat to scorers and pretty boys but I guess there was a point in the 90s that made sense to place Art in the All-Star game.

10 | ROBERT WAINWRIGHT


1-time PBA Champion

8.4ppg | 4.1rpg | 11 seasons


The former Cebu Gem burst into the spotlight as part of the Sta. Lucia Realtors. In some ways, his entry, along with a few others in 2000, jumpstarted what was the end of the MBA. I thought Wainwright’s gameplay is ahead of his time, given that he has the height of a power forward and the range of a shooting guard. In eleven seasons, Wainwright averaged in double digits once… and recorded a less than 5-point season also only just once. So what’s with the fat All-Star egg? I guess he’s not a fan favorite because, given his stats, there are a lot of so-so averages that appeared in the game. I also thought injuries and his journeyman status played a major role as to why he never saw action in the All-Star main event.



9 | PAOLO MENDOZA

1-time PBA Sportsmanship Award 2-time PBA Champion

7.5ppg | 2.0rpg | 2.2apg


Paolo Mendoza joined Dennis Espino and Marlou Aquino as the only Realtors to see action in both of their championships. Is this is a good record? Well… yes, it is. Do you know what’s a bad Paolo Mendoza trivia? He is one of six PBA top picks to never play in the All-Star main event. While Fil-German sensation Christian Standhardinger is a more superior talent (and could still claim an all-star appearance when the health issues are over) and Roosevelt Adams as well as Joshua Munzon would have their moment, I believe he had a better career than ex-Ateneo behemoths Alex Araneta and Noy Baclao. I thought he had the tools to excel in the PBA if only he had the height or the playmaking skills to battle his contemporaries. But it’s not like his numbers are that bad for him to miss out on an All-Star appearance.


8 | NELBERT OMOLON


1-time PBA Mythical Second Team (2008)

4-time PBA Champion

7.7ppg | 4.4rpg | 13 seasons


An integral part of the Sta. Lucia Realtors’ second championship, the former PCU Dolphin and Welcoat Paint Master was selected eighth overall in the 2004 PBA Draft. Omolon was picked behind Rich Alvarez, James Yap, Ranidel de Ocampo, Sonny Thoss, and Marc Pingris and was picked ahead of Gary David, Paul Artadi, and Willy Wilson. With the exception of Wilson, these players have appeared in the main match of the All-Star festivities. He spent most of his career in Sta. Lucia and his combo forward game made him their new and much-improved version of Noynoy Falcasantos. It’s also important to note that Omolon made the Mythical Second Team of the 2007-08 PBA season. Sure, he’s a two-time PBA Blitz Game MVP but it’s pretty much a side event to the main event.

7 | JONAS VILLANUEVA


PBA Most Improved Player (2009)

1-time PBA Finals MVP (2009 Fiesta Conference)

2-time PBA Champion

6.3ppg | 2.7rpg | 3.1apg | 11 seasons


What do Jonas Villanueva, LA Tenorio, Alex Cabagnot, Bonbon Custodio, and Mike Cortez have in common? Well once upon a time these players were groomed to become Olsen Racela’s heir apparent in San Miguel. In fact, there was a time when that notice became real for this former FEU Tamaraw. J-Vil helped the Beermen win the 2009 Fiesta Cup in which he was adjudged as the Finals MVP. While Villanueva is the only player to win the PBA Obstacle Challenge four consecutive times (from 2010 to 2013), I think a lot of people would agree that should have at least one PBA All-Star Game appearance. The fact that he ended his career so unceremoniously makes me wonder how his career would have fared if he got an all-star nod early in his career.

6 | CLIFF HODGE


1-time PBA Mythical Second Team (2017)


It's insane to learn that Hodge is already in the PBA since 2012. I mean... is the PBA D-League that old? I clearly remember the days where he and Chris Ellis were parading their athletic abilities for the virtually unstoppable NLEX Road Warriors. Yes, Hodge hasn't been a consistent double-digit scorer but it's not like Meralco Bolts have consistent all-star invitees. Thinking about it though, I may re-write this piece and reserve a spot for Chris Newsome. I just thought twice about Newsome because he is posting better numbers and he NEEDS to be an all-star with the way he is playing. Hodge as well... and he's a more immediate need since he's already in the PBA for this long.


5 | YANCY DE OCAMPO


1-time PBA Mythical Second Team (2008)

10-time PBA Champion

5.8ppg | 4.8rpg


There was a time when The Postman is seen as the future of Philippine basketball. In fact, he had a Mythical Second Team citation as part of the Talk N Text Phone Pals. Hell, remember when a USBL team tried to sign him? Back when June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter are no-namers, this former St. Francis Dove is the most sought-after big man after his stellar gameplay with the PBL's Welcoat Paintmasters. Unfortunately for Yancy De Ocampo, he was seen more as trade bait than a franchise player. His fall from grace started when Air21 and Talk N Text ping-ponged for his services. By the time he crossed to the SMC ranks, he was seen as a second-stringer. He retired with a buttload of championships though... but he also played behind the likes of Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger. Again, he had a disappointing career... but the PBA invited a lot of benchwarmers for the spectacle and it's just mind-boggling that he couldn't get one.



4 | FREDDIE ABUDA


2-time PBA Defensive Player of the Year (1997, 2000)

4-time PBA All-Defensive First Team

8-time PBA Champion

4.4ppg | 4.7rpg | 12 seasons


The 1993 PBA Draft saw the likes of Jun Limpot, Victor Pablo, Johnny Abarrientos, and Olsen Racela finally getting the pro treatment. The same goes for this forward from Eastern Samar… although nobody saw his PBA stint as the stuff of legends. That all changed when Freddie Abuda got mentored by Ron Jacobs and from lanky no-namer, The Scavenger became a household name. I guess with the likes of Racela, Danny Ildefonso, and Danny Seigle running San Miguel, it’s easy to discount Abuda as All-Star material. But then even fellow Ron Jacobs guy Mike Mustre got an All-Star nod. Abuda is a fan favorite and he deserved an All-Star spot. Hell, I may be talking nonsense here but he’s easily the “Draymond” of that San Miguel team.


3 | TERRY SALDANA


PBA Most Improved Player (1983)

5-time PBA Champion

8.3ppg | 5.9rpg | 17 seasons

Achievement Awards: 5,000 Points, 2,000 Defensive Rebounds, 1,000 Offensive Rebounds


Terry Saldana almost suffered a career-ending injury in 1988. He successfully returned to active duty but he was never the same player. With that said, The Plastic Man still had a lot in him that could have given him an All-Star nod. Unfortunately for this former Toyota Super Corolla, the All-Star games during his prime were nonexistent and the games past his prime had the RSJ versus Veterans format. In some ways, this is why I placed Saldana in this spot – because his 80s game is far different from his 90s role. Plastic Man went on to play an epic exhibition game in which he was named MVP of the Crispa versus Toyota Reunion Game (Saldana started his PBA career with the Super Corollas).



2 | SEAN ANTHONY


1-time PBA Mythical First Team (2019)

1-time PBA Mythical Second Team (2016)

1-time PBA Defensive Player of the Year (2019)

1-time PBA All-Defensive First Team

In 2011, Sean Anthony and Rob Labagala were named co-MVP in the PBA All-Star Blitz Game. No offense to the former Ginebra point guard but Sean Anthony's gameplay is just on another level. It sucks that as of re-writing this in 2021, he has more seasons in which he failed to play 20 minutes per game than have an All-Star invite. Anthony may have collected more team jerseys than other superstar studs, but the constant snubbing is just insane. Anthony had five seasons wherein he averaged more than ten points and seven rebounds per game. Hopefully, a random SMC team won't swipe him off the small market team he is currently involved in because that would spell doom on his all-star chances.



1 | WYNNE ARBOLEDA


1-time PBA Mythical Second Team

2-time PBA Defensive Player of the Year

4-time PBA All-Defensive First Team

Achievement Awards: 500 Steals

7.0ppg | 3.4rpg | 3.4apg | 1.4spg | 15 seasons


The only reason why I picked The Snatcher over Anthony is that as of this writing, Anthony is still an active player.


Anyway, Wynne Arboleda is the undisputed face of the Air21 franchise. Not only is he the longest-tenured… The Snatcher actually married into the squad. He is basically the Triple H of Air21-land. But while we pity/revel in the fact that Gary David played his last PBA game without a championship, Arboleda also failed to win a title… and was never a part of the All-Star big dance. For almost a decade, Arboleda made beautiful music with the likes of David, Renren Ritualo, Arwind Santos, KG Canaleta, and Ranidel de Ocampo – leading to these players’ entry to the event – but for some insane reason, he was never given a chance to represent the Express. I thought he was bound to see action in the All-Star during the late 2000s… but boy did he mess things up when he rocked and socked that fan that sparked his temporary league absence.





Did you agree with this list?


Did I miss someone out or did I wrongfully insert a player?



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