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SYDRIFIED'S 100 BEST PBA CAREERS LIST 2023 EDITION | 61 TO 70




I think 15 years ago, I made some sort of vanity project wherein I listed down my 100 Best PBA Careers of All-Time.


I say “careers” because saying the “greatest” has its own pros and cons. One “con” is that I value historical stats and try to give bonus points to the pioneers. Also, we have our own favorite players, so the “greatest” tag is also going to measure a legend’s fandom. While it’s easy to rate the awesomeness of Robert Jaworski, Alvin Patrimonio, James Yap, Hector Calma, and Samboy Lim on top of this category, it might not be the case for a Ginebra hater, a San Miguel troll, and a Purefoods critic.


Or a U/Tex Wrangler?


I lowkey love their jerseys.


Also, I made this list by researching their stats and making 300 players duke it out. When I first made this list in the mid-2000s in the www.hoops.blink.ph website, it had the likes of Jun Papa, Ompong Segura, Bal David, Rey Cuenco, Larry Mumar, Marte Saldana, Rudy Kutch, Andy Seigle, Elmer Cabahug, Boybits Victoria, Willie Pearson, Roger Yap, Dondon Ampalayo, Rene Canent, Wynne Arboleda, Mick Pennisi, Noy Castillo, Vince Hizon, Pido Jarencio, Chris Jackson, and Yoyong Martirez. When I made the current version of this list, I considered a couple of names that are still playing like CJ Perez, Ian Sangalang, Jeff Chan, Solomon Mercado, Poy Erram, and Chris Newsome.


Spoiler alert, these guys never made the list.


Unlike my first Best Careers list, I have gotten hold of the career averages of the PBA legends from 1975 up until the present. I know their best seasons and their worst seasons as well. When I created my list back then, I zeroed in on the players I wanted to make the list. With that said, I had LA Tenorio at number 88 then.


LA Tenorio is going to be a lot higher on this list.


If you remember PBFantasy, the PBA-based fantasy game from the mid-2000s, I created a stat equivalent that is somewhat similar to its grading system. Points are 1.25, rebounds are 1.5, assists are 2, steals are 2.5, and blocks are 2.75. I gave points an additional .25 because an okay PBA season average is more or less, seven points per game. Meanwhile, I gave an additional 0.25 points on blocks because with the exception of an elite few, swatting shots in the PBA is an extremely monumental task.


In terms of other categories, I considered the MVP, Mythical Team selection, BPC, Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, All-Star MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, 40 Greatest Players list, scoring titles, championships, and grand slams. I also gave away phantom Mythical points for the players who were Top 15 in my tabulation from 1975 up until 1983 – or the times the league didn’t have the Mythical Second Team selection.


I also considered the milestones and the games played. I never had the need to put extra points other than the phantom pioneer points, but I am going to create a mini-tourney for the top players within a particular range (91 to 100, 81 to 90, etc.) based on the number of individual awards they accumulated. The players with an MVP, BPC, Mythical First Team, Mythical Second Team, and Finals MVP will have an advantage (in that order.) For example, if the number 100 guy and the number 99 guy had two individual awards, the one with the BPC would trump the one with the Finals MVP award (since the BPC covered more conference scope than the Finals MVP.) If there is still a deadlock, then the number of championships they won will come into play.


And oh yeah, I almost forgot. Instead of writing why they are on this list, I am going to write about why they are RANKED THIS LOW on the list. I made this change so the blog wouldn’t get too wordy and you probably know why these legends are in this place in the first place. The most obvious red flags are the pioneer’s curse, injury bugs, low overall stats, limited amounts of awards and championships, journeyman status causing statistical decline, and even off-court antics.


So it’s time to dive headfirst on this list. If you have violent reactions, you can just share it with your friends to say what an utter moron I am. But here’s the thing – this is my list... and you can make yours if you want... and I will respect it.


The game starts now.







70 | VICTOR PABLO

1993 – 2008 | 1993 PBA DRAFT – GINEBRA – 2ND OVERALL

AVERAGES: 11.3PPG – 5.3RPG – 1.4APG – 0.5BPG – 661 GAMES

MILESTONES: 7400 POINTS – 3500 REBOUNDS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

1-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

1-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

4-TIME CHAMPION


Victor Pablo was a formidable presence in the paint, commanding attention with his inside play. During an era when 6'4 power forwards were considered "towers," he excelled at dismantling opposing defenses. And unlike some of his contemporaries, I think The Conqueror adapted to the small forward position the best, especially with his super effective mid-range jumper.


With that said, he spent most of the 2000s as a key starter who is transitioning to an elder statesman role. He returned to Mobiline (formerly the Pepsi franchise) with Asi Taulava, Jerry Codinera, and eventually Jimmy Alapag and Willie Miller leading the team. Also, it did not help that despite being strong on paper, Talk N Text only had one championship during this period.




69 | BONG ALVAREZ

1989 – 2005 | 1989 PBA DRAFT – ALASKA – 4TH OVERALL

AVERAGES: 16.4PPG – 5.3RPG – 3.2APG – 1.0SPG – 403 GAMES

MILESTONES: 6500 POINTS – 2100 REBOUNDS – 1200 ASSISTS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

1-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

1-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

1-TIME CHAMPION


Bong Alvarez came into the scene and should have won the Rookie of the Year award in 1989 if not for Benjie Paras. Mr. Excitement finished his first year with 23.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He would increase most of his averages in his second year up until an injury would mess his game up. The four seasons he played for Alaska were the most he spent in his pro career. This is where he won most of his individual awards and his lone PBA title and this is the time when he briefly defeated Allan Caidic's 68-point record by scoring 71 points in a game.


And this is pretty much the problem of Bong Alvarez's career. It's hard to become a main man if you are moving a lot. In all, Alvarez played for eight PBA teams, two MBA teams, and a USBL squad within a 16-year span. He also had a lot of off-court antics and most of his trades are allegedly due to behind-the-scenes situations. Maybe his career would have been different if his career wasn't as "exciting," to say the least.




68 | NIC BELASCO

1997 – 2014 | 1997 PBA DRAFT – POP COLA – 2ND OVERALL

AVERAGES: 8.8PPG – 7.0RPG – 1.2APG – 0.4BPG – 680 GAMES

MILESTONES: 6000 POINTS – 4700 REBOUNDS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

1-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

2-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

8-TIME CHAMPION


Playing behind Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle has its perks - especially for Nic Belasco. The former second overall pick in the 1997 PBA Draft had the skills but lacked career direction. When Nelson Asaytono asked for a trade, he was one of two players that Pop Cola gave up. At first, Belasco was seen as a younger and more athletic version of Freddie Abuda but as the years went by, he developed an accurate outside shot.


But yeah, Belasco may have solidified his status with the Beermen but this also made him a highly sought-after trade sweetener. In fact, Belasco's popularity as a star led to him playing for six different teams during his final six years in the league. I bet St. Nic would have had a better career if he hadn't gone from team to team.




67 | SAMBOY LIM

1986 – 1997 | ELEVATED – SAN MIGUEL

AVERAGES: 16.0PPG – 2.8RPG – 2.0APG – 0.7BPG – 335 GAMES

MILESTONES: 5300 POINTS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

2-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

1-TIME ALL-STAR MVP

1-TIME GRAND SLAM MEMBER (SAN MIGUEL)

9-TIME CHAMPION

40 GREATEST PLAYERS IN PBA HISTORY


It was every basketball player's dream to emulate the grace and aerial artistry of Samboy Lim. The Skywalker, who was an integral part of the legendary Northern Consolidated Cement-RP squad, went on to play the San Miguel Beermen. Samboy helped the Beermen win a grand slam in 1989 and in the process, gave him two Mythical Second Team selections. And unlike some of his contemporaries, Samboy remained level-headed despite his gravity-defying offense. His attitude made him one of the most beloved PBA players in league history.


It's worth noting that this article focuses on celebrating the best careers rather than ranking the greatest players. Not to disrespect Ato Agustin but Samboy Lim could have had his accolades if it wasn't for his injuries. Lim sat out the entire 1991 PBA season and played a combined 47 games from 1994 to 1997. For sure, without the injuries, Samboy would have at least had a First Team selection as well as stretching the San Miguel dynasty.




66 | JOE DEVANCE

2007 – 2022 | 2007 PBA DRAFT – WELCOAT (RAIN OR SHINE) – 1ST OVERALL

AVERAGES: 10.3PPG – 5.0RPG – 2.3APG – 0.5BPG – 607 GAMES

MILESTONES: 6200 POINTS – 3000 REBOUNDS – 1400 ASSISTS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

3-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

1-TIME GRAND SLAM MEMBER (SAN MIG COFFEE)

12-TIME CHAMPION


Before Joe Devance became Tim Cone's utility guy, he was first his go-to guy. After playing one year for the Welcoat Dragons, JDV was traded to Alaska and the rest is history. A season before joining CTC in B-Meg, Devance averaged 16.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks - which are all career-highs.


With that said, it feels as if JDV is better off doing Tim Cone's bidding. Since moving away from Alaska, Devance managed to score just one Mythical Team selection. However, JDV also had 11 of his 12 championships during this span, including a grand slam in 2014. Devance might have been the fifth scoring option at this point but he also has frequent champagne showers so that's basically a good deal.








65 | HECTOR CALMA

1986 – 1994 | ELEVATED – SAN MIGUEL

AVERAGES: 9.8PPG – 2.4RPG – 5.1APG – 0.8SPG – 389 GAMES

MILESTONES: 3700 POINTS – 1900 ASSISTS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

3-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

1-TIME GRAND SLAM MEMBER (SAN MIGUEL)

9-TIME CHAMPION

40 GREATEST PLAYERS IN PBA HISTORY


Hector Calma is undeniably one of the best point guards in the history of Philippine basketball. Turning professionally officially in 1986, the long-time member of the Northern Consolidated Cement-RP Team is one of the vital cogs in San Miguel's 1989 grand slam. Calma is also a three-time Mythical First Team member and his precision decisions got him the moniker of The Director. This led the PBA to place him alongside legends such as Caloy Loyzaga, Narciso Bernardo, Robert Jaworski, and Alvin Patrimonio in their All-Decade Team.


With that said, I think Calma thought of San Miguel as an extension of the NCC program. While he stood out as the eyes and ears of Norman Black in the court, his stats weren't really eye-popping. He only played in nine seasons, at 34 years old, due to injuries. In the current version of the PBA, it's unheard of to retire that "young."



64 | MARK BARROCA

2011 – 2023 | 2011 PBA DRAFT – SHOPINAS (AIR21X) – 5TH OVERALL (TRADED TO B-MEG)

AVERAGES: 10.1PPG – 3.5RPG – 3.4APG – 1.4SPG – 536 GAMES

MILESTONES: 5300 POINTS – 1800 REBOUNDS – 1800 ASSISTS – 700 STEALS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

1-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

1-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

2-TIME FINALS MVP

1-TIME GRAND SLAM MEMBER (SAN MIG COFFEE)

6-TIME CHAMPION


It's amazing how much of a bargain San Mig Coffee spent in bringing in Mark Barroca. Imagine a career that includes two Mythical Team selections, two Finals MVPs, and a grand slam for the draft rights of Brian Ilad. Barroca is also part of the original Smart-Gilas squad alongside Marcio Lassiter, JV Casio, and Japeth Aguilar.


While his level of success had waned when Tim Cone moved to Ginebra, it's clear that Barroca's individual and team awards aren't as high as they once were. With that said, The Coffee Prince has still a couple of good years left.




63 | MACMAC CARDONA

2005 – 2017 | 2005 PBA DRAFT – AIR21 – 5TH OVERALL (TRADED TO TALK N TEXT)

AVERAGES: 14.6PPG – 3.9RPG – 2.2APG – 0.8SPG – 425 GAMES

MILESTONES: 6200 POINTS – 1600 REBOUNDS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

1-TIME BEST PLAYER OF THE CONFERENCE

1-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

2-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

1-TIME FINALS MVP

1-TIME SEASON SCORING CHAMPION

1-TIME CHAMPION


Known as Captain Hook due to his unblockable hook shot, Macmac Cardona served as the thorn to the shooting guards of his era. Cardona rose to stardom when his DLSU and TNT teammate, Renren Ritualo, was loaned to Team Pilipinas' FIBA-Asia 2007 squad. After his rookie season, Cardona would average more than 12 points per game seven consecutive times.


I know Cardona had off-court issues, but I thought his rise hit the ceiling when he was moved from Talk N Text to Meralco. Unlike in TNT, Meralco didn't have the winning tradition back then, and Cardona missed out on their almost grand slam. All of Cardona's major awards and accomplishments happened when he was part of Talk N Text.




62 | OLSEN RACELA

1993 – 2011 | 1993 PBA DRAFT – CONEY ISLAND (PUREFOODS) – 11TH OVERALL

AVERAGES: 7.9PPG – 1.9RPG – 3.3APG – 0.8SPG – 925 GAMES

MILESTONES: 7200 POINTS – 1700 REBOUNDS – 3000 ASSISTS – 700 STEALS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

2-TIME MYTHICAL FIRST TEAM

3-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

9-TIME CHAMPION


Olsen Racela earned the title of the best point guard in the PBA during the early 2000s, mainly due to his fearless and aggressive style of play. Once upon a time Dindo Pumaren's backup, Ra-ra possessed incredible speed and orchestrated plays masterfully in a "controlled chaos" setting. This pass-first point guard helped the Beermen to two almost grand slams in a time when Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle starred as their main offensive guns.


With that said, it felt like "the next Olsen Racela" tag is an insane way to drive him out of the court despite the fact that he is still capable of being THE Olsen Racela. Up until the second SMB stint of Alex Cabagnot, San Miguel tested five or six players in a span of five or six players. In some ways, this prompted the notion that San Miguel is talent hoarding.




61 | ALVIN TENG

1986 – 2002 | ELEVATED – SAN MIGUEL

AVERAGES: 8.8PPG – 6.1RPG – 0.5APG – 0.5BPG – 652 GAMES

MILESTONES: 5700 POINTS – 3900 REBOUNDS


AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

4-TIME MYTHICAL SECOND TEAM

1-TIME DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

1-TIME ALL-STAR MVP

1-TIME GRAND SLAM MEMBER (SAN MIGUEL)

9-TIME CHAMPION


Alvin Teng was one of two Magnolia players elevated by San Miguel when they re-joined the PBA in 1986 after the events that led to the People Power Revolution. At first, his appearances were sporadic but with the injury to Yves Dignadice, The Robocop blossomed.

Known at the start for his defense, Teng never shied away from battling for possession and defending at all costs. Teng would also showcase his scoring prowess eventually and was an important part of their 1989 grand slam campaign.


With that said, Teng found success in San Miguel. He was then traded to Pepsi and was seen as their first major superstar but I guess he was better off as part of an ensemble. By the time he joined the Laguna Lakers in the MBA, his numbers were already decreasing.



 

TO BE CONTINUED.

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