#worst #pba

First blogged on July 4, 2019.

Who wants to be the crappy filling in between two awesome talents?

Who wants to be the general manager who passed up on a great talent… and then narrowly missed on the even bigger talent.

Now before fans and players go apeshit on my list, I based the entries on facts. I listed down the five major individual awards and while some of the names mentioned have zeroes, these players may be former national players, many-time all-stars, multiple ring holders, and more or less can complement the other part of the "sandwich".

Also, this is not the WORST PLAYER list. Because the four top names on this list are far from busts. They were just selected in between two big-time superstars.

So let's start this!


12 | James Forrester

Fourth pick overall | Barako Bull Energy (traded to the Barangay Ginebra Kings)

2013 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Raymond Almazan (3) and Terrence Romeo (5)

I remember this draft… and all the expletives I said when I saw his name taken too early. For starters, I have a Jeric Teng bias back then (Viva Santo Tomas) and I thought he’s a better pick than Forrester. Also, Barako Bull had three straight first-round picks and they gave all those picks away. I get that Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang, and eventual third pick Raymond Almazan are the optimal top three picks but who knew Ginebra would get a pick in the early first round and waste it on a player that they’ll keep on their bench in the tradition of Reil Cervantes, Macky Escalona, Jimbo Aquino, and Keith Jensen.

James Forrester may have been a stud in Arellano but Ginebra still had the in-rotation versions of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand in their squad. Another thing, Terrence Romeo is still available at that point and the many-time mythical Team member has since razzle-dazzled all fans of all walks. Meanwhile, Forrester bounced from team to team and league to league which sucks because of his oozing potential.

11 | Marlon Legaspi

Eighth pick overall | San Miguel Beermen

2003 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Enrico Villanueva (7) and Reynel Hugnatan (9)

A millennial must ask, “Who in the world is Marlon Legaspi”? Heck, I don’t even know if his last name is spelled with an “s” or with a “z”. Back in the day though, he was one of the best centers produced by the PBL. Legaspi is once upon a time a PBL MVP candidate for the Blu Detergent Kings. Had it not for Enrico Villanueva, he could have won the MVP award, the Finals MVP award, and the championship in the 2002 PBL Chairman’s Cup.

In hindsight, he should have been a top-five player. Unfortunately for Legaspi, he declared for the draft at the time of the MBA’s demise. He should have seen the silver lining when midway through 2002, the MBA discards led by Romel Adducul, Eddie Laure, Reynel Hugnatan, Alex Compton, John Ferriols, and a slew of others flocked the PBL.

Things went even more difficult when he joined the 2003 PBA Draft. Picked eighth overall by the San Miguel Beermen, Legaspi’s playing time had restrictions because how on earth could he get the adequate exposure if he’s working behind Danny Ildefonso, Dorian Pena, and Nic Belasco?

But then again, perhaps things could have been different for the Beermen if Enrico Villanueva dropped to eighth or Reynel Hugnatan was the one they selected. There was a time when E-Vil was MVP material and while Hugnatan never had a big-time individual prize, he has been a fixture in All-Star games and has had a couple of championships with Coca-Cola and Alaska.

Legaspi signed with the Shell Turbo Chargers in 2004 and while he gave significant contributions, the former MLQU standout disappeared from the PBA to play in the minor leagues right after Shell’s disbandment.

10 | Eugene Tejada

Fifteenth pick overall | Sta. Lucia Realtors (traded to the Alaska Aces)

2003 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Cyrus Baguio (14) and Ronald Tubid (16)

I guess it’s odd for a top draft list to talk about a bunch of mid-second rounders. Also, we all know what happened to Eugene Tejada and how appreciative we are that he’s fighting and overpowering the odds after the freak accident that happened a decade ago. With that said, Alaska acquired the pick in the Kenneth Duremdes trade alongside the draft rights to Brandon Lee Cablay. The Aces would then use said pick to select Eugene Tejada.

Tejada was picked before Ronald Tubid and after Cyrus Baguio.

So yeah.


The 2003 PBA Draft only had one MVP winner but a slew of mythical teamers (as mentioned in the previous entry). You know what – the draft’s third overall pick Eddie Laure almost made this list for being the filling of a Romel Adducul and Harvey Carey sandwich. As of this writing, Tubid and Baguio are still part of the PBA and have had their share of championships and individual achievements.

And I’ll end this entry with a fun fact. Before these teams disbanded, Shell and Red Bull had the knack to select big-time players beyond the first round like Rookie of the Year winners Leo Austria and Larry Fonacier. They also had their share of disappointing picks though. Shell had Laure, Sonny Cabatu, Erwin Luna, and another entry as case in point with Red Bull using their picks to select Denver Lopez and Ogie Gumatay.

9 | Samigue Eman

Second pick overall | Magnolia Beverage Masters

2007 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Joe Devance (1) and Ryan Reyes (3)

Samigue Eman should have had the career of June Mar Fajardo. Both are giants from the south of the border taken by the Ramon Ang franchise. But while Kraken is on the verge of claiming his sixth MVP title, Sam Eman was out of the PBA in his sixth year (I know Eman lasted longer but I did this for the sake of dramatic theatrics).

Eman’s stock could have risen up if he was able to wrestle the top spot from Joe Devance, who turned out to be Welcoat’s pick. This is not a farfetched notion, especially if you consider that Eman played for Welcoat in the PBL and Devance played for their rival, Toyota Otis. Instead, Eman became the Philippines’ version of Darko Milicic – a player with tons of potential whose confidence went bye-bye when he started his career out of the rotation.

One might ask, perhaps maybe if Eman slid down to the third spot? I doubt if he’ll have his minutes if Sta. Lucia took him with the Realtors stacked in the frontline with Kelly Williams, Dennis Espino, and Marlou Aquino. Ryan Reyes, the third overall pick, eventually became what they needed as the team won a title, and Reyes won the Rookie of the Year award.

8 | Ricky Cui

Second pick overall | Manila Beer Brewmasters

1986 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Rey Cuenco (1) and Dondon Ampalayo (3)

I know little about Ricky Cui except for his brief stint with the San Miguel Beermen and the fact that former Sta. Lucia and Mobiline center Gabby Cui is his relative. With that said, I guess his career is the opposite with regards to those of Rey Cuenco and Dondon Ampalayo.

The late Arellano star played awesomely as part of Shell and Ginebra during the late 80s and early 90s. Cuenco also had a Mythical Team citation and finished his career with double-digit scoring averages. Meanwhile, The Magic Man is a two-time Mythical Second teamer and part of the dreaded Ginebra bad boys squad of the late 80s.

Ampalayo is also the draft’s Rookie of the Year.

Sure, all three had considerably short careers due to injuries and team rotation but if you think about it, the 1986 PBA Draft only had seven players.

7 | Wesley Gonzales

Ninth pick overall | FedEx Express

2004 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Nelbert Omolon (8) and Gary David (10)

The 2004 PBA Draft is kind of known as the one that had Rich Alvarez picked ahead of James Yap, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, and Sonny Thoss.

Fun fact – there is also another Atenean in the draft that could have had a better career.

Wild… Wild… Wes.

The thing about Wesley Gonzales is that he is perfect for the PBA grind. He may be a worthy starter for weak teams (even in his UAAP days as he shared time with Larry Fonacier, Rainier Sison, and Jec Chia) but he can be a good role player for title-hunting teams as well. Wesley Gonzales has the SIZE to play multiple positions. He may not rival Gary David as a scorer, I bet he could have been the Ateneo Blue Eagle version of Bitoy Omolon’s pro career… if only he played for less than four teams.

And this is what should have been Gonzales’ PBA career. Gonzales could have been a perfect Omolon or guys in his essence like Leo Najorda in Red Bull, Will Antonio in Coca-Cola, Jun Marzan in Shell, and Rey Evangelista in Purefoods. Omolon had a lengthy stint in the PBA because while the Sta. Lucia Realtors rarely played for titles, they took care of Nelbert’s career. Just imagine if Wild Wes had a team that properly took care of him and didn't see him as a trade kicker?

6 | Bryant Punsalan

Fifth pick overall | San Miguel Beermen

1995 PBA Draft

Picked in between | Chris Jackson (4) and Jeffrey Cariaso (6)

When I saw Bryant Punsalan wearing the San Miguel jacket at the 1995 PBA Draft, he reminded me of former San Miguel reserve Jeffrey Graves.

I don’t know what I’m thinking… but it kind of made sense, especially with how his career turned out.

I initially saw Punsalan during his years with the FEU Tamaraws. Punsalan had defensive capabilities and I guess a semblance of offense. Unfortunately, Punsalan never had the opportunity to shine. When there’s an injured player, he’s also an injured player. While he is a good defender, there were other good defenders in the San Miguel camp. Purefoods was no different. Punsalan would later move to Alaska and then would move to the MBA where he replicated his PBA journeyman status.