Renren Ritualo is perhaps my favorite Green Archer to play in the PBA ever.
I never saw him as a sharpshooter as of Allan Caidic. For me, The Triggerman is our version of Larry Bird.
With that said, Ritualo is our version of Reggie Miller. Sure, John Arigo has the lank as well as the swagger to make him the perfect 2.0 but The Rain Man deals the blows to render his opponents worthless. His run as the main man in Air21 is proof of his awesomeness and frankly, I believe his move to TNT because they wanted his “awesomeness” messed up a great career (also Air21 slowly making their selves as a premium "conduit Hokage").
And the dude played like a beast for the DLSU Green Archers. I may hate the school because of the UST-DLSU wars back in the day (it’s like my hatred for Korea in basketball tiffs even if I am a huge Running Man and Kim Jong-min fan), but it’s hard not to root for Renren especially back when he combo-ed with Don Allado.
I had to start with the Ritualo mention because this blog will end with a Ritualo mention.
I had trouble thinking about which DLSU player had the best PBA career. Like the Ateneo Blue Eagles, La Salle has yet to register a PBA MVP amongst their alums. Mike Cortez had a stellar start for the Alaska Aces but his career trajectory went nowhere after bouncing from SMC team to SMC ally and TNT team to TNT ally. Don Allado also had a journeyman career following his stint with Alaska. JV Casio had a respectable career but numbers hardly wowed people.
Lim Eng Beng had one Mythical Team citation. He also played in a time when U/Tex played spoiler to Crispa and Toyota. Beng was a legend in DLSU but I thought he is one of three names in the list that did not age well.
There are three players whom I thought could get the nod.
Dindo Pumaren is one of my favorite players. Dubbed as The Bullet, he made sure Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera got their shots in the 90s. Pumaren won four titles with the Purefoods Hotdogs but it’s not like he is the superstar of the squad.
Pumaren is also a second-round pick in the 1989 PBA Draft - picked after Zaldy Realubit and Bobby Jose. While Realubit and Jose are non-busts, the 1989 class is just non-comparable to the other drafts that even their second-round could belittle most first-rounds with Pumaren, Elmer Cabahug, Ric-Ric Marata, and one-time MVP Ato Agustin also part of the conversation.
Then we have Jun Limpot. I wanted The Real Deal to top this list. His worst year (6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 42 games) is a good year for most players. In 14 seasons, Limpot had twelve double-digit scoring seasons. In 299 games for the Sta. Lucia Realtors, Limpot averaged 19.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks. The only problem about his career is his inability to individual and team glory. Limpot only had two Mythical Second Team honors and one championship when he was already coming off the bench. Would it help if his twin tower combo with Dennis Espino towed them to titles? Of course, it would. It would also help Limpot's cause if he won a title with the likes of Eric Menk, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Bal David, Romel Adducul, and even for a time Vergel Meneses.
So I guess I am going to have Mac Cardona then?
Captain Hook is not your typical scoring machine. He is basically our version of Allen Iverson – inside and outside the court. His swagger elicits hate amongst the league and glee if you are his teammate. The mere fact that he carried over his moniker and his trademark teardrop shot to the pros is a testament to how badass he is. When I was still doing mock drafts in Multiply (or Live Journal), I had Cardona pegged at second after Jay Washington in the 2005 PBA Draft. I didn’t know much about Alex Cabagnot back then and all I know is that Sta. Lucia has learned their lesson when it came to Fil-Ams (they would eventually deal Cabagnot to Coca-Cola in a somewhat exchange with Denok Miranda). Cardona never looked to have rookie jitters. In fact, his insane gameplay and the fact that TNT ruined Ritualo’s career by acquiring him only made his mystique bigger.
Captain Hook battled Rain Man for minutes in TNT and won because of his exceptional offense and defense. And while Ritualo was feeling the TNT system, Cardona just went apeshit with the playing time given to him. From 7.7 points during his rookie year, Cardona’s numbers ballooned to 18.1. Ritualo on the other hand had a career-high 18.2 points playing for Air21 and TNT and then would nail 14.3 points the following season. 14.3 points are still exceptional for PBA standards but when Ritualo was “returned” to Air21 after almost five seasons, his numbers and playing time have significantly decreased no thanks to Captain Hook’s awesome gameplay.
Remember how awesome he was treated by Ginebra fans whenever his team squares off with the crowd favorites?
Remember how crazy he becomes whenever he scores a massive attack to piss off the fans?
Cardona only had one championship with the TNT Phone Pals but he also had one Mythical First Team, two Mythical Second Team, one Best Player of the Conference award, a Finals MVP award, and five all-star appearances. Sure, Limpot had eight all-stars, and Pumaren had ten but it’s hard to discount Cardona’s achievements. Jason Webb had two all-star appearances despite averaging less than four points during that stretch. It’s hard to count the all-stars because the PBA All-Star format is at times ridiculous.
Just imagine if Macmac played a part when TNT started their championship run. Just imagine Cardona combining with Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, and Ranidel De Ocampo in one team. Sure, chemistry is suspect but Cardona could have been an awesome SG than Larry Fonacier and Jared Dillinger. Cardona’s career went haywire when Meralco shipped Cardona to Air21 with personal issues getting in the way.
But even in his worst times, he could still pull good numbers.
So yeah, Cardona is my pick as the best DLSU player in the PBA. You just can’t discount his individual accolades and it’s not like there are any other options with better numbers. As I said, I would have wanted to enter either Limpot or Pumaren on this list with Noli Locsin, Allado, and even JV Casio becoming part of the conversation.