April 8, 2015
They say life begins at 40.
You and I will probably know its true if we ourselves reach that age. Or by asking our elders who are 40 years old and above. Heck, you can even ask me four months from now. (Oops, slip of the tongue).
So for the Philippine Basketball Association, a new horizon beckons as the country’s premier professional league turns 40 on Thursday, April 9 (Philippine time). It was exactly 40 years ago when the PBA played its first ever game between Mariwasa and Concepcion at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. And then tens of thousands of players, coaches, teams and hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of fans came and went. Rivalries of Crispa-Toyota and Ginebra against the world (Tanduay, Purefoods, Shell, Alaska and even San Miguel) were born and the emergence of San Miguel and Alaska as a dynasties were the big news.
And now the PBA is 40.
And as part of the celebration, the league will enshrine players to the PBA’s Top 40 Greatest Players list during the grand celebration of its four decades of existence at this Casino-littered venue.
The new batch to be included in the elite group are James Yap, Mark Caguioa, Jimmy Alapag, Danny Ildefonso and Asi Taulava, Willie Miller, Eric Menk, Kelly Williams, Jayjay Helterbrand, Arwind Santos, Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, Chito Loyzaga and Marlou Aquino. They will accompany Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Alvin Patrimonio, Bogs Adornado, Abet Guidaben, Benjie Paras, Atoy Co, Freddie Hubalde, Philip Cezar, Ricky Brown, Johnny Abarrientos, Ato Agustin, Francis Arnaiz, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Jerry Codiñera, Kenneth Duremdes, Bernie Fabiosa, Danny Florencio, Jojo Lastimosa, Lim Eng Beng, Samboy Lim, Ronnie Magsanoc, Vergel Meneses and Manny Paner, who were all honored by getting inducted in the initial batch of 25 PBA greats feted during the league’s silver anniversary in 1999.
Fittingly, as my big brother at The Philippine STAR Nelson Beltran writes, most of them are expected to attend the blue-ribbon affair where six sportswriters who covered the PBA in its early years will also be recognized. These my wonderful The Philippine STAR boss Lito Tacujan, Manila Bulletin’s Ding Marcelo, Inquirer’s Jun Engracia and Ernie Gonzales, the Journal Group’s Gus Villanueva and former PNA sports editor Eddie Alinea. Jaworski and Freddie Webb, both former PBA stars who have served as senators of the land, led the special committee that selected the 15 players added to the PBA greats roster. MVP winners Yap, Caguioa, Alapag, Ildefonso, Taulava, Miller, Menk, Williams, Helterbrand and Santos were automatically included in the list while Castro, Pingris, Raymundo, Loyzaga and Aquino got the five open slots.
But hey, let’s admit it, not all agree with the list.
Don’t get me wrong, all 40 are deserving. There is no question about that. But I have a problem of putting active players into that list considered as the Hall of Fame of the PBA. When I say active, it means he is still playing in the PBA even if he’s just sitting on the bench helping mentor the younger guys wanting to be like them. Isn’t it awkward to see them play and they’re in the Top 40? Just look at the NBA, they have Hall of Famers who have long retired not to mention they have a stringent measure of selecting potential inductees. I’m a firm believer that these greats will be more revered if they’re in the Top 40 and they’re not playing anymore. Let others–Nelson Asaytono, Bong Hawkins, Danny Seigle, Yoyoy Villamin, Abe King, Manny Victorino, Jeff Cariaso and Olsen Racela and among them–who were as great, if not greater, than them who has long hang up their jerseys, take their place. They’ll be in that group, anyway.
But for all intents and purposes, I congratulate the new inductees and wish the league well.
Happy 40th Birthday, PBA!
I say a little player to some deserving players who were not in the list to make it to that group someday.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Or you can read this Interaksyon story by my friend and colleague Rey Joble: http://www.interaksyon.com/interaktv/atoy-co-not-satisfied-with-latest-inclusions-to-pbas-40-greatest-list-could-skip-ceremony
(Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Ariel Morales)