My Toughest Matchup, as told by Danny Seigle

Note: this feature was first published on Sept. 29, 2018

A direct hire by the San Miguel Beermen in 1999, Danny Seigle is arguably one of the best forwards to ever play in the league. Seigle spent most of his career with the Beermen and won eight championships, four Finals MVPs, two Best Player of the Conference awards and a Rookie of the Year plum.

He was later on got traded to the Air21 Express/Barako Bull before finishing his career with the TNT KaTropa. He averaged about 15 points and six rebounds throughout his career.

ESPN5 caught up with the current De La Salle head of basketball operations to ask him which player he considers was his toughest matchup during his time in the PBA.

Seigle on Offense

Defending Seigle was not an easy task. He was faster than natural power forwards and stronger than small forwards. He knew how to finish around the rim and was also a good midrange shooter. His bread and butter was his jumper, a weapon that might not have been textbook in terms of the release but was deadly nonetheless.

When defenders felt physically overmatched against Seigle, they often resorted to dirty tactics.

"There was this one time, and I'll never forget it, it was my first practice game. It was Elmer Lago. I was going through the lane on an off-the-ball play and he just whacked me. The best thing about it was he actually said 'Welcome to the PBA,'" Seigle recalled. "I remember Jay Mendoza was another player who'd rough me up all the time but I respond well to tactics like that."

Asked who was the player who defended him the best, Seigle's answer was The H-Bomb.

"Rudy Hatfield was a great defender because he had unlimited energy," he said. "Rudy played physical and he never gives up on a play. You can go by him and he'll be running from behind, trying to block your shot anyway. Sure, he'd commit a foul here and there but he'll get into your head. No matter what you tried to do to lose him, he'll find a way to get back."

Seigle on Defense

Although he was never an All-Defensive player, Seigle's physical attributes also made him a tough defender. He posted more than 300 blocks in his illustrious career mostly because of his timing and leaping ability. Still, there were some players whom Seigle had a tough time against.

"Vergel Meneses was tough to defend because he had this quick hesitation move that always caught you off guard," Seigle said. "More recently, it was Ranidel (De Ocampo). He has all these pivots and moves inside. You also can't leave him open from the outside."

Toughest Matchup

If you ask Seigle about the toughest matchup of his career, he'll quickly point to his 1999 batchmate Eric Menk. While Seigle was a direct hire of San Miguel, Menk was part of the squad that Tanduay elevated in their return to the PBA.

They entered the PBA and often crossed paths. They had solid matches with SMB and Tanduay but they also met in the PBA finals a few times after Menk transferred to Ginebra.

"I always looked forward to facing Eric Menk," said Seigle. "He could go either way, left or right. He was relentless and strong. He maximized his talent. He was not exactly the quickest guy or the highest leaper but he was strong as a workhorse. For his size, Eric is a lot quicker than you'd think. Back then he was shooting threes while also being a great post-up player with all those hook shots."

On defense, Menk was both skilled and smart.

"He's actually a good defender," Seigle added. "He didn't go for my pump fakes which were my weapons. He'd stay disciplined and on the ground, he knows how to stay in front of me because he was also a physical defender. I think it brought out the best in us because we were both so competitive."