The Greatest Filipino Basketball Players Of All Time
We’ll never forget their time on the court.
Filipinos may not be the tallest or the fastest people in the world, but we as a nation love basketball like no other country in the world. It’s not just a past time, it’s a passion. So while we may not have the ideal build for the sport, we’ve still produced some of its best talents.
If we’re going to start somewhere, we have to start with Robert Jaworski. His name has echoed through generations and for very good reason. From his humble beginnings in makeshift courts, the Big J led teams to championships over and over, including a back-to-back championship for the Red Warriors, the ABC Men’s Championship, the Open Conference and the MICAA President’s Cup.
He might be known most for his comedy now, but once upon a time, Benjie Paras was a significant player in Philippine basketball history. He stands as the only athlete to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season.
If it’s numbers you want, then Alvin Patrimonio has them for you. He holds the record for most consecutive games played (596), third most scored points in history (15,091), fourth most rebounds (upwards of 6,000) and has the highest number of MVP awards (4).
The Fortune Cookie has a sense of humor in him, but he was generously made with talent as well. In 1979, he became the first ever PBA player to score 5,000 points and then 10,000 in 1984. At the end of his career, he was the PBA’s No. 4 in All-Time Scoring with 12,994 points.
Known as The Triggerman, Allan Caidic is hailed by fans and critics as the best shooter the Philippines has ever produced. During his career, he broke the record for most points scored in a single game (79), the most three-point field goals in a single game (17 triples), most consecutive freethrows made (79) and the most three-point field goals in a career (1,242).
There are hardly any players as championed as Mon Fernandez. He was named MVP four times, won the PBA championship 19 times and is the league’s all-time scoring leader with 18,996 points—a record that still holds.
He may be relatively short, but Johnny A’s reputation precedes him. In 1996, he was awarded the PBA’s MVP and became the shortest player to win the award at 5 feet 7 inches. The following year, he was offered a position at the pre-season camp of the Charlotte Hornets but declined to focus on his PBA career.
At 6 feet 9 inches, Marlou Aquino was known as The Skyscraper during his time. From the get go, Aquino was a force to be reckoned with. He was the first overall pick during his draft and he won Rookie Of The Year in 1996—a first for Ginebra San Miguel in a decade.
While he is one of the few players to win MVP in back-to-back seasons, Danny Ildefonso takes it a notch further by having won MVP in the regular season, the finals and the all-star game. The Demolition Man is also the only PBA player to be drafted first-overall in the draft and the expansion draft.
Nicknamed the Aerial Voyager for his high-flying moves and acrobatic hang times, Vergel Meneses is often hailed as one of the most enjoyable PBA players to watch. His plays were exciting to witness and he was virtually unstoppable on the court. He was awarded the MVP in 1995 and is a four-time all-star MVP.
We can’t wait to see how the current players fair.