November 7, 2006 by  

Bored at work, I thought of ways to make myself think. And this is what I came up with: Next week I’ll try to get the greatest centers.

Basketball is said to be played with height but these guys defied that saying. Question: How can these small guys see the court clearly than the bigger guys? With all the big guys standing in front of them how can they see the ring? Is this the reason why small guys need to score treys? Height is might but these guys defied it.

And as I rank my ten most greatest playmakers let’s look at the notables who should be mentioned.

They almost made my list… but no:

20. Frankie Lim – A former Alaska, Purefoods, and SMB gunner. He now bankrolls cash as the Manager of Talk N Text.

19. Al Solis – You could mistake him as a shooting guard because when he’s hot… he’s on. But while he isn’t scoring he is an adequate playmaker during his Purefoods and Swift stints. A testament to this is his excellent headcoaching duties in the Cebu Leagues and as a former assistant coach to Boy Cabahug on the University of Visayas Lancers.

18. Leo Austria – The first ever Rookie of the Year winner after the Draft was instilled.

17. Willie Generalao – Was the first great point guard of Ginebra (called Gilbey’s then) before the Jaworski era. A typical orchestrator. A great executioner of plays.

16. Franz Pumaren – Perhaps the best quarterback sub ever (he was Hector Calma’s reliever during SMB’s grand slam run).

15. Jayjay Helterbrand – The fourth great guard of Ginebra following Jaworski, Jarencio, and David.

14. Pido Jarencio – Started out as a dreaded hotshot and mixed those qualities to become a great quarterback.

13. Boybits Victoria – Almost helped Sunkist acquiring a grand slam (they lost the third conference that year to Sean Chambers and the Alaska Milkmen. The year after, Alaska got the grand slam.)

12. Yoyong Martirez – Before becoming Vic Sotto’s sidekick, he starred the SMC Franchise alongside Manny Paner with his accurate dishes.

11. Gerry Esplana – Until I remembered Lim Eng Beng, he was my number 10. Mr. Cool played for Presto, Sta. Lucia, and Shell. A former Rookie of the Year and a Mythical Selection.

My Big Ten:

10. NOT A FLASH IN A PAN –Bal David

Only a few, or hardly any, can tell their kids that they made Asi Taulava cry. The Flash, as he’s called, made him cry twice, with an indescribable skill to hit clutch shots. Among his accomplishments is his desperation heave in the halfcourt to seal the win against San Miguel. Though most of his highlight feats are basically miracle shots, David’s coming to the PBA is also a miracle of sorts. The point guard that jumpstarted UST’s four-peat run, he was picked by Sunkist in the third round but was left unsigned. Still determined to make the league, he joined Stag and alongside Marlou Aquino, they locked the PBL franchise to a rare grand slam. When Aquino was drafted by Ginebra, he was signed to compliment the lanky giant. Until injuries forced him to bid adieu to the league, he was Ginebra’s chief point.

9. THIS MOUSE IS A GIANT -Jimmy Alapag

Still at the peak of his prime, the Mighty Mouse is the rightful face of the future of Philippine quarterbacks. With an uneventful stint in the PBA 2002 Asiad team, succumbing to injuries while Ron Jacobs (later Jong Uichico) was looking for a souped-up roster, Alapag resurfaced in the PBA as the tenth pick of Talk N Text (Alaska traded his rights for Don Camaso – a move Alaska hated when Camaso turned out to be a dud). He combined his excellent court sense and explosiveness with the lust to make his teammates look good.

8. BULLETPROOF – Dindo Pumaren

His name has the pedigree of basketball goodness. His father is the decorated Pilo Pumaren while his older brothers Derrick and Franz scored grand slam accolades for San Miguel Beer (Derrick was Norman Black’s chief assistant in that team) The former DLSU Archer started in the PBA as a member of the Purefoods Hotdogs. Picked behind Benjie Paras, Nelson Asaytono, and Bong Alvarez, the Bullet gained fame with his lightning-quick speed, great court savvy, and precision passing. His extensive knowledge with the matters of the court is still being used today as he mentors the UE Red Warriors. He helped Purefoods with a bundle of titles. As an individual, he annexed his name in the all-time list as one of the league leaders in assists and steals. Despite not getting the fame his contemporaries like Racela and Abarrientos obtained, the Hotdogs’ number 10 should be retired by the management. Unfortunately for some reason, Paul Artadi is currently using this number.


If LA Tenorio becomes one of the best pointguards the league has ever created it would be this guy’s fault. Racela started out as a second round pick of Purefoods in the 1993 Draft led by Jun Limpot, Vic Pablo, and Abarrientos. He was traded to SMB for Bong Ravena and the rest was history. His quickness and utter brilliance in directing plays has been his niche. He was once called the best guard in the PBA during his prime. Perhaps his biggest “shame” if you call that shame was that fateful night where the two free throws he missed proved to be the undoing of the Philippine Team in Busan. Despite that instance no one can’t deny the fact that Rara was the powerful force that made the Philippine basketball great.

6. MAGSANOC THREE POINTS! – Ronnie Magsanoc

Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. The Point Laureate – nobody knows the three-point area like Ronnie Magsanoc. With the exception of Allan Caidic, this wheeling and dealing guard can pop a triple with an exceptionally high accuracy. This lightning quick shooter made his mark as the chief orchestrator for Shell. Together with Benjie Paras, he led the UP Maroons (in the UAAP), and the Shell Turbo Chargers to numerous titles. In the course of his career, he has made tons of crucial baskets and made tremendous passes to seal the fate of his team’s enemies. He was traded to Sta. Lucia at the tailend of his career but still sizzled for the Realtors. His last tour of duty came from the Purefoods Hotdogs where, coming out of retirement, he helped the Hotdogs win a title.

5. WHO’S THAT POKEMON?!?! – Lim Eng Beng

Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. The hardworking DLSU guard owns one of the best averages in NCAA history (When DLSU was still playing in the NCAA). His number 14 remains untouched – wannabe takers of the number include Renren Ritualo (he wore #4 playing for DLSU but during his PBL and PBA stints he wore #14). Despite unusually built for his size, the bulky scorer is a revered force when it comes to shooting the lights out against the opposing teams. Though he played for Crispa past his prime, he made the U-Tex Wranglers a respectable Top 3 team as they played spoiler for the Redmanizers and the Corollas for having another Toyota-Crispa championship trip. He last played for the San Miguel Beermen, finishing his stint as one of the best shoot-first quarterbacks the league has ever seen.


Led his team to a Grand Slam. Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. You have 5 big time egos – all MVP material and for a coach, its an ardent task to spot a guard capable of making his big players happy. Lucky for Baby Dalupan, Bernie Fabiosa was there to field the goods to his wards. Amongst the Sinister Six of him, Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Bogs Adornado, Freddie Hubalde, and Abet Guidaben, he was the only point guard to create MVP’s on five different players in his team. Furthermore, he’s the only starting quarterback to lead his team to two grand slam titles in 1976 and 1983. He also played for Shell and Great Taste before ending his storied career.


Led his team to a Grand Slam. Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. The Director started as an amateur reinforcement for Ron Jacobs’ National Team. Playing for the guest team Northern Consolidated Cement, his tactics served as factors for the guest team to win the tourney. He was later acquired by the comebacking SMC Franchise and with his former NCC teammates, the San Miguel Beermen pounced on a Grand Slam in 1989. Though he was injury-plagued in the later part of his career and he was never a scorer, his ability to make his teammates look and play strong proved as basis for his title as the best player Philippine basketball developed on that era (1980’s).

2. THE LEGEND LIVES ON – Robert Jaworski

the 1978 MVP. Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. The Living Legend displayed tremendous talent in that year- averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds – almost breaking to triple-double numbers. He led two different teams to cult status – he played alongside Ramon Fernandez at Toyota and he was the playing-coach for Ginebra. Until now, the popularity he got when he was still playing remains unmatched. He donned the Philippine colors at the 1968 Olympics. He was an 8-time Mythical Team member and was once named as one of the Top 5 Asian players to play in the 60’s era.

1. FLYING TO THE TOP SPOT – Johnny Abarrientos

The 1996 MVP. Led his team to a Grand Slam. Voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players of the League. The Flying A was one of the candidates to become the first Asian to play in the NBA. Known for his clutch shots and pop-up jumpers, this pint-size quarterback wowed crowds for playing big despite his size. A score first guard, he was also an excellent passer and a big time ball thief, placing his mark in history as one of the all-time leaders in the assists and steals department. When he came to Alaska, he provided the championship savvy that Frankie Lim, Marte Saldana, Ric-Ric Marata, and Eugene Quilban failed to extract. With Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins, Jeff Cariaso and Poch Juinio seconding the Flying A, Tim Cone’s Milkmen lorded the PBA land in the course of the 90’s. Picked third in the 1993 draft, the former FEU Tamaraw declined a chance to play for the Charlotte Hornets to concentrate in his PBA career. During those times, international players topping the NBA were basically unheard of.

Basically my criteria for choosing this are their legacy, star power, and ability to orchestrate and lead their teams – regardless if they are assist inspired or a score-first player. Amongst the Top 5, the guys that got the 25 Greatest Players Slots are automatic inclusions. The players with the MVP and Grand Slam finishes also get automatic high spots while the rest got their grades from the players I remembered seeing. I’m 24 – so if you’re trying to ask me why your favorite 70’s guard from the 1975 period that didn’t play for Crispa, Toyota, or U-Tex isn’t included then explain why he should be there. There are also three current players in the list and they are there because they could be or will be legends in the near future.

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