The Philippines is one of the most basketball-crazy countries in the world. The first professional basketball league in Asia, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) serves as a showcase of Philippine talent. It is important to note that one of the Philippines' best basketball players Caloy Loyzaga played well before the establishment of the PBA, but was an absolute force for the national team.
Now, the country is getting the spotlight after its very own Kai Sotto, a 7-foot-2 homegrown prospect, signed in Australia's National Basketball League after a brief stint with G league ignite.
With Philippine basketball getting renewed hope of seeing its first homegrown NBA player, we take a look and reminisced the greatest basketball players from the archipelagic country.
10. James Yap
Yap was a lethal scorer who had a plethora of moves at his disposal. Combine this with his large hands and he left defenders flustered. Eventually, he learned to be a solid defender. Yap was as clutch as they came and sank many memorable game-winners.
9. Junemar Fajardo
He can dominate inside the paint, own the boards, and he can also run the break! Junemar Fajardo can do it all 👀
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— One Sports (@OneSportsPHL) January 28, 2018
Fajardo is the one player on this list who can rapidly move up the ranks. The PBA has seen its fair share of giants, but none have been nearly as complete as Fajardo. Standing at an imposing 6'10, 278 pounds, Fajardo was on the radar despite not playing for one of the traditional collegiate powerhouses.
He is so dominant inside the paint that the dynamics of the game changed. Fajardo is a handful for single coverage and double-teaming him will just lead to open looks for his talented teammates. He is an automatic double-double and is an elite rim protector.
Fajardo won the MVP six times in consecutive seasons.
8. Allan Caidic
When someone is called “The Triggerman,” you know they are a lights out shooter. Caidic is the greatest Filipino sharpshooter of all time. In one game, he somehow managed to go 17-of-27 from deep.
He once held the record for most 3-point shots converted at 1,242. His reputation as a marksman reached overseas, as he was a staple on the national team.
7. Johnny Abarrientos
The “Flying A” had a real shot of being the first Filipino to play in the NBA, specifically for the Charlotte Hornets. Despite his small stature, he had everything you looked for in a point guard. He was a natural playmaker, but at the same time can create his own shot and was a pest on defense. As expected, he had a high basketball IQ.
6. Ricardo Brown
California produces more PBA players than any other place. This may not be so surprising due to the state's basketball culture and population size, but it is thousands of miles away from the Philippines.
Brown helped pave the way for Filipino-American players to enter the league. He had some of the best handles anyone had ever seen in PH basketball, a smooth jumper, and made his teammates look good with his slick passing. As his moniker “The Quick Brown Fox” suggests, he was a great athlete, too.
5. Benjie Paras
🏀 Kilalanin natin!
VENANCIO 'BENJIE' PARAS
'Tower of Power'
2x PBA Most Valuable Player (1989, 1999)
PBA Rookie of the Year (1989)
Read on ⬇️#PBAat45 #PBATayoAngBida #PBAKilalaninNatin #PBAMVP pic.twitter.com/khydzPTNF2
— PBA (@pbaconnect) May 24, 2020
Some first-year players are classified as day one starters. Paras is the very essence of this statement, as he is still the only Filipino player to win rookie of the year and MVP in the same season.
Aptly named the Tower of Power, Paras carried over his dominance in the collegiate ranks to the professional level. His overpowering strength and athleticism made him a matchup nightmare for opposing bigs.
4. Alvin Patrimonio
The Captain was the best power forward of his generation and was an automatic scorer, regularly demanding double teams. In fact, Patrimonio was named MVP on four occasions. He is third all-time in total points scored with 15,091.
He was an iron man and once held the record for most consecutive games played at 596. The record was broken in 2019 by guard L. A. Tenorio.
3. Bogs Adornado
The three-time MVP changed Philippine basketball with his shooting prowess. He has the distinction of being the first league MVP. While he is best known for his outside shot, he was also a deadly scorer from the post. These are what caused him to be the PBA's scoring champion three times.
His signature pump fake fooled many defenders and is a big reason why he led the league in free throws made for a couple of seasons. Adornado staged a heroic return from a serious knee injury relatively early on in his career and had a roaring comeback.
2. Ramon Fernandez
Fernandez was a player ahead of his time. He was a big man who does many of the things bigs do today. He can handle the ball and make plays for his team. Fernandez was a triple-double waiting to happen.
He won MVP honors four times in his long, illustrious career. His 18,996 career points scored is still the highest mark in the league and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
1. Robert Jaworski
He is a player whose legend lives on to this day, decades after his last professional game. Jaworski was a lockdown defender so much so that anyone he covered could be classified as double-teamed. His tenacity, intelligence, and unusual length and hand size made this possible.
While he produced solid stats throughout his career, his impact on the game goes beyond the box score. He was a leader and the heart and soul of every team he suited up for.