Top Ten: Players that should have made it in the PBA

January 21, 2007 by  

Blessed are the busts – for at least they can say to their grandkids that they actually played in the PBA.

For the 1,081 games Abet Guidaben played in the PBA, there are a few who could say they played in the PBA by just walking on the floor.

Sounds great, right?

Hell no.

Christian Nicdao, once a star center for Chowking and the FEU Tamaraws played only two, YEAH TWO, official PBA games! For a player who used the MBA’s Laguna Lakers as a launch pad to stardom, the former second round pick of the TNT Phone Pals found it hard to fit in a system headlined by Asi Taulava, Vic Pablo, Mark Telan, and Yancy de Ocampo. He was actually part of the wish list of FedEx (now Air21 and formerly the Laguna Lakers of the MBA) but TNT shrugged the offer (don’t know why though… as if they were using him). Fortunately for his part, alongside Jovy Sese, Eric Quiday, and Delfin Rizane, it was former SMB draftee and PBL standout Lou Regidor and former Great Taste player Carlito Travino who holds the record for fewest games for a PBA player with one.

Good for them.


When you read the following names, you might say I’m inventing names! But for a fan who used to see these guys play in the UAAP, NCAA, PBL, or the MBA, you might find their cases a bit disturbing.


1) At all costs you must pick a team that plays in the UAAP or the NCAA!

If Gilbert Lao (the author is a UST Tiger but I really like to tease him because Marvin Ortiguerra is better but he’s languishing in the PBL) didn’t play for UST would he even stay this long in the league? Sure playing for schools like St. Francis, UM, and even UV can actually give you recognition but you have to be special cases to be noticed.

2) Never go under the radar!

A player like Ryan Pamintuan could easily land the starting five in Ateneo just like what he did when he played alongside Mark Telan in the RP National Under 18 Youth Team! Unfortunately for him, he just drifted out and gave up his Ateneo top spot when a guy named Enrico Villanueva showed up. Make no mistake; PBA scouts look for players even in high school. That’s all of this former PBA players are showing up coaching the minors to their guys for the future benefit of their teams! And finally,

3) Master the Art of Timing.

Seriously, Mark Macapagal was just plain lucky to get his current state. Just like I said in an earlier blog, he could have applied for the league as early as 2003 but he didn’t. Now you can’t blame the guy because he’ll just definitely get shipped back to the minors with all the MBA-PBA transfers, the Fil-Am surge, and the lack of teams in the league then!

With that being said, you might not remember some of these guys (although you know the top pick is). Don’t spoil yourselves looking at the end.


10. NESTOR ECHANO – the former high-leaping guard became known to us as one of the guys that tried to claim the UAAP Title back for the FEU Tamaraws! Now we all knew about the Mutt and Jeff combo of Victor Pablo and Johnny Abarrientos but when these guys left, he and alongside Arnold Padaong and Long David were the guys trying to get back the titles claimed by the DLSU Archers and later the UST Tigers. Echano would later surface as a Manila Metrostar in the inaugural season of the MBA. Before the Metrostars merged with the Batangas Blades, Echano had left the league and hasn’t been heard since.

He plays like: Larry Fonacier with better dunking abilities.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: 1) Did he ever applied? 2) Injury prone 3) He came to the MBA as a teammate of Alex Compton, Peter Martin, Reuben dela Rosa, Gilbert Demape, and dominating Romel Adducul! How can you upstage them??

9. FELIX DUHIG – For those of you, who haven’t seen his game during his prime, well, just think of Boy Cabahug, Naning Valenciano, Al Solis, Roehl Gomez, and the other Visayan three-point slingers and you’ll know. Duhig played for the PABL-Crispa team led by Pablo, Abarrientos, Kevin Ramas, and Jun Jabar during the early 90’s. The long range bomber was a great kickout option for Pablo if the defense on him was tight and is a great drive and dish option for the Flying A when he penetrates and finds himself trapped. Ultimately, Duhig was selected in the second round of the 1993 Draft by Alaska which was topped by Jun Limpot, Pablo, and Abarrientos. After not getting picked to the main roster he returned to the PABL before hanging up his sneakers, never even making the MBA era.

He plays like: A typical Cebuano hotshot.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: Alaska that draft had THREE first round picks. The league then had eight teams. If you were Alaska, could you possibly pick him over Johnny Abarrientos, Johnedel Cardel, or Dickie Bachmann?? (Okay you’ll say yes to ditch Dickie but they had Gomez in their lineup already! Don’t BLAME DICKIE!!!!)


8. JONAS MARIANO – Son of former National player and basketball coach Jimmy Mariano, Jonas had the body and the game to make it in the PBA. He was the second round pick by Ginebra who drafted Noli Locsin in the first round as the 1994 Top Overall Pick! Locsin and Mariano were teammates at La Salle, being the burly duo that ransacks their way to their opponent’s defenses! Technically, he was part of the Ginebra squad but unfortunately he never played a game because of a career threatening injury. The Gins, who at the time lacked star power, waited for his recovery but that was until they got guys like Marlou Aquino, Vince Hizon, Bal David, EJ Feihl, and the others to create the dawning of the Ginebra powerhouse era. After Ginebra released him he tried to pursue an unsuccessful attempt in acting. He later joined his father who was currently coaching the MBA expansion team Surigao Miners as its star player. The results were… meh! The franchise dissolved before it made it to its second year and that was the last time we saw Jonas Mariano playing commercial ball.

He plays like: Noli Locsin, seriously.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: The injury… it had to be the injury.

7. RALPH RIVERA – Just like Pamintuan and Mark Telan, Ralph Emerson Rivera was also part of that great youth team. In fact, Rivera was amongst the team’s popular personalities. His charisma combined with his shooting ability was in the norm of a Richie Ticzon or a lesser Vince Hizon. He played college ball at San Beda. When the MBA was formed he joined SBC coach Dong Vergiere in the Pangasinan Presidents alongside SBC teammate Rensy Bajar, Ato Morano, and Oliver Agapito. When Coach Dong was sacked he joined the LBC-Batangas Blades until the end of the MBA. He later joined the LBC team alongside Alex Compton in the PBL before applying in the 2003 PBA Draft. He was picked in the third round by Shell but was left unsigned.

He plays like: A bigger Richie Ticzon

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: He was bigger than Ticzon unfortunately he wasn’t a point guard. He was too small to be a shooting guard and had difficulties handling the point. When Shell selected him, he was basically known as Compton’s sub in the MBA. Landing in the third round means the impact that he had while playing outside the MBA has waned.

6. JEROME CUETO – Another throwback player from the PABL days. In the amateurs, he kicked the asses of Dindo Pumaren, Ronnie Magsanoc, and other great guards of that generation. Basically he was the best point guard in the PABL that era. His crisp passing and precise playmaking proved best for the RFM-Swift team. His passes also made some guy become famous. Incidentally the number Cueto wore in the amateurs was also the number this guy wore when he had an MVP season. Despite a weak collegiate career, Vergel Meneses became a much heralded player partly because of this guy.

He plays like: Olsen Racela with a Frankie Lim body.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: For some reason, he just disappeared. When the MBA surfaced I thought he’ll play for a team there but he just didn’t show. Perhaps he’s living in the States or he’s owning a business/ having an office job here.

5. HENRY ONG – During UST’s phenomenal four-peat, during crunch time, one guy has to have the ball. Accurate… fun to watch… think of him as the mean offensive threat that could drown their foes with his amazing shooting.

He plays like: A cross between Elmer Cabahug and a much better version of Roehl Gomez’s role in Alaska.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: Henry Ong didn’t exactly had a great PBL career. And he decided to quit basketball altogether during the merger of Batangas and Manila. I don’t even think he applied for the PBA Draft. Last time I saw him was when a group of former Tigers attended the UAAP Finals as UST won against Ateneo.

4. DAVE BAUTISTA – People might express concern on how could this guy land in the upper half of my top ten. Well, he gained nationwide exposure as the burly starting forward of the Pampanga Dragons, the first MBA National Champs (later played at Nueva Ejica before returning to Pampanga). So? Throughout his MBA career, Bautista produced solid numbers, reaching double-doubles in a consistent manner… just like Billy Bansil and all of those other subpar hoopsters. But what he really was is he’s an untapped talent – the basic premise of the mission/vision of the MBA.

He plays like: like Alvin Teng and Yves Dignadice, but with more offense.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: He flew to the States, grew muscles, took up wrestling, and now calls himself as Batista. Just kidding (although Batista’s real name is David Bautista). Despite his size, he is reed thin to play in the PBA. Another reason is that he never had adequate PBL experience – ever since the MBA started to falter, most MBA players tried their luck in the PBL where they ended up as second stringers to college superstars. After taken in the third round by Red Bull in the 2003 Draft, he was playing a year later in various minor commercial leagues where he won MVP honors. He is now playing as an import for some developing pro basketball league in Southeast Asia.

3. PAUL RAYMOND DU – During the Stag Grand Slam of ’95, Paul Du was never really the star of the show. Du was the fifth option in a team where Marlou Aquino and Jason Webb provided the offense, Bal David was the main quarterback, Reuben dela Rosa was the main muscle, and an eventual superstar in Mark Telan has yet to get quality minutes for Alfrancis Chua. Du however, was the mighty scoring machine of the UP Maroons during his UAAP stint. Despite not taking State U to a Final Four appearance he was one of the reasons why there are still UP fans trooping Araneta.

He plays like: Actually a lot like Jason Webb in his UAAP and PBL heyday.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: He could have a great chance to shine in the PBA, especially with all the talk involving Stag (then renamed Tanduay) and Red Bull going to the PBA. But he just drifted out – perhaps the entry of Eric Menk and the “new” Tanduay team marked his decision to move on. After a year of hiatus he resurfaced as a Cagayan de Oro Nugget in the MBA’s debut season. After three seasons, he vanished.

2. DANNY FRANCISCO – The Ateneo championship of 1988 was like the Cleveland Cavaliers of the early 90’s – if Mark Price and Brad Daugherty led the Cavs as the top guys, then Gilbert “Jun” Reyes and Danny Francisco were the star players of the team. Benjie Paras shouldn’t have gotten the firat pick overall in the 1990 Draft that easy. Francisco was as dominating and as pierce as he was. Aside from leading the Eagles to a crown, he was in several international meets. A big guy with a soft touch, he was virtually unstoppable in the shaded area.

He plays like: Wearing number 10 in the amateurs, he was said as the next Ramon Fernandez of the league because he plays just like the Franchise.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: Danny Francisco could have been a legend in the pro ranks with his size and skill had not for his heart condition. His heart is so fragile that he cannot undergo competitive b-ball. He didn’t went away from the game though. He returned as a commentator for the defunct MBA and for the other ABS-CBN Sports shows. He is also the team manager of the Cebuana Lhuiller team in the PBL.

1. ALEX COMPTON – When the MBA opened in 1998, there was this player who had the ability to hurl long range bombs with superb accuracy. He is Alex Compton, the heartbreaker. He was the cornerstone of the MBA’s Manila and Batangas teams, alongside Romel Adducul, Eddie Laure, and Peter Martin. What’s good about Compton is that he learned Tagalog and enjoys living as a Filipino – something the current flock of PBA Fil-Ams couldn’t still master.

He plays like: Ricardo Brown – minus the strength as Compton’s game is outside the shaded area. But the accuracy rivals that of the Quick Brown Fox.

Best reason why he never played for the PBA: A Fil-Am must have 50 percent Filipino lineage – the PBA constitution vehemently points out. This is why when the Fil-Sham controversy, there are many reputations tainted. From the start of the MBA, he told the people that he was born in the Philippines but has American parents. Maybe he could have lied about his roots but he didn’t. After the MBA’s collapse, he played for LBC, Sunkist, and Montana Jewels in the PBL. During this time, he begged for the league to let him play in the PBA. Most of the players and the coaches agree for the league to soften up on Compton. But this was the time where several situations of deportations and proving their roots was killing his chance to play in the league. Finally, with injuries and age taking its toll he asked for a final chance, citing he could play directly for newcomer Welcoat or join the draft. When he was again rejected, he retired from professional play and became the assistant coach at Welcoat.

If I am missing something or someone, let me know.

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