In 2015, the Philippine Basketball Association added 15 other legends to its original list of the 25 Greatest Players of All-Time. At the time, many people were surprised by the inclusion of players that were still active. Guys like Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris and Jimmy Alapag were included in the list. But though they were already considered shoo-ins once they retired (as Alapag has since), many argued that there were a lot of legends who were left out.
To recall, during the league's 25th anniversary in 2000, a committee named these players the 25 greatest of all time:
Johnny Abarrientos, Bogs Adornado, Ato Agustin, Francis Arnaiz, Ricky Brown, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Jerry Codiñera, Kenneth Duremdes, Bernie Fabiosa, Ramon Fernandez, Danny Florencio, Abet Guidaben, Freddie Hubalde, Robert Jaworski, Jojo Lastimosa, Lim Eng Beng, Samboy Lim, Ronnie Magsanoc, Vergel Meneses, Manny Paner, Alvin Patrimonio, and Benjie Paras.
Fifteen years later during the 40th anniversary, these 15 players were added:
Jimmy Alapag, Marlou Aquino, Mark Caguioa, Jayson Castro, Jayjay Helterbrand, Danny Ildefonso, Chito Loyzaga, Eric Menk, Willie Miller, Marc Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, Arwind Santos, Asi Taulava, Kelly Williams, and James Yap.
Five years have passed since the list was revealed, and since this year is the 45th anniversary of the PBA, we thought, "Which players could be added to a hypothetical 45 Greatest PBA Players?" For a task as difficult as this, there will always be tough cuts. We first identified several worthy nominees, but now we reveal our final five.
JUNE MAR FAJARDO
The Résumé (so far): 7 seasons, 8 championships, 6 PBA MVPs, 8 BPCs
Why he belongs on the list: Can comfortably sit at the table when discussing the G.O.A.T. in the PBA
Never have we seen a sustained run of domination and excellence in the PBA for this long since the days of Ramon Fernandez and Robert Jaworski. June Mar Fajardo has become synonymous to excellence, and the standard for which all big men will be measured against forever.
Since entering the scene in the PBA in 2012, Fajardo has exceeded all expectations for what a franchise-level big man can be. With Fajardo, the San Miguel Beermen have dominated the league, especially in the Philippine Cup, where they are winners of five straight championships. He's also won 6 straight Most Valuable Player awards, and both are records that will be almost impossible to match.
We've never seen anyone like Fajardo. It's likely we never will again.
The Résumé: 17 seasons, 820 games, 7 championships, 2 BPCs, 12,268 points (5th all-time), 4,469 rebounds, 1,336 assists
Why he belongs on the list: Arguably the deadliest scorer in PBA history
If there's one thing "The Bull" could do well, it was get buckets. And for 17 years, he was damn near unstoppable.
Asaytono has always been one of the most beloved figures in the league because his determination to outscore and embarrass you was second to none. His confidence and swagger made him a crowd favorite, whether it was with Sunkist or San Miguel. Asaytono was left off the PBA's all-time greatest list twice, but it's time we made room for him now.
The Résumé: 15 seasons, 548 games, 8 championships, 4 Finals MVPs, 2 BPCs
Why he belongs on the list: Was on pace to be one of the greatest to step on a PBA floor
Most fans of the PBA will remember the moment that Danny Seigle's career was changed forever.
The achilles injury that stopped Seigle dead in his tracks in 2002 was a heartbreaker not just for fans of San Miguel, but for every single fan that loves basketball and the league. At the time, Seigle was on one of the hottest runs in the PBA, and was helping the Beermen build a dynasty, as he partnered with Olsen Racela and Danny Ildefonso to win title after title.
All of this is to say that Seigle's presence on this list despite having the apex of his career cut short is a testament to what kind of a talent he was. His ability to play almost every position on the floor made him a nightmare to defend. And his dunks were some of the greatest we've ever seen.
In the words of the great broadcaster Noli Eala: "Susmaryosep, ikaw na ang maging Danny Seigle!"
The Resumè: 18 seasons, 782 games, 13 championships, 7,851 points, 6,222 rebounds, 580 blocks
Why he belongs on the list: One of the the first true power forwards in the PBA
A Filipino player throwing down a two-handed reverse dunk in the 70s must have been the equivalent of a martian landing smack dab in Manila. But that's the kind of game that the great Abe King had. One of the greatest defensive players the PBA had seen, King was the anchor of the great Toyota squads during the late 70s and early 80s, and also found greatness when he became the the foundational piece of the Great Taste Coffeemakers.
When you count legends like Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera as your pupils, that's when you know you're one of the greats. And King, one of the best two-way players that the PBA has ever seen was exactly that.
The Resumè: 13 seasons, 692 games, 9 championships, 9,430 points (19th all-time), 2,262 assists (21st all-time)
Why he belongs on the list: A winner everywhere he went
For a player to to win titles in three decades, that can't be an accident. And Tuadles won everywhere he went. He's in rare company, as one of a handful of players that have championships with three different teams. And he did it with a flair that was uniquely his. And not only was he a great scorer, he was also a great passer, holding the record for most assists in a game for a long time. And doing it at the forward position makes it even more impressive.
Tuadles may not be top of mind when it comes to legends, but the proof is in the pudding. He ranks up there in terms of the all-time leaders in points scored and assists made. And with Tuadles showcasing the dynamic abilities that many great small forwards exhibit today, he's more than deserving of a spot on the all-time list of PBA greats.