Bekshoot’s Top 15 PBA Players (#10-#6)
The Bekshoot’s Top 15 list is designed to spotlight the best PBA players (“period!”). The rankings are based on where players stand at this very moment and their current situations.
No set formula was used for this list; it just represents my opinion and feelings about the players after watching and analyzing a good sample of games, reading every relevant article, digging statistics from the internet, watching highlights in YouTube and yes, intently digesting their basketball-related tweets. While ranking the players, I asked myself questions like “Which player would I rather have on my team?”, “Which one would I rather build around?”, “Is he better at his position than this player?”, “How good is he on defense?” or quite simply “Sino ang mas magaling?’. Even with all the information that I have gathered and the questions that I have asked, separating some of these players calls for a brain-crunching subjective decision.
I truly understand if you expected the rankings to be a lot different. Like myself, I bet some of you have 20 years of basketball knowledge to form your subjective judgment, so your opinions are very welcome.
No. 10 – No. 6
10. Jimmy Alapag
2010-2011 Averages: 12.43ppg 2.86rpg 5.44apg 37.9FG% 34.9 3PT%
2003, 2004-2005, 2010-2011 Mythical First Team
It took me significant amount of time staring into blank space and a couple of pimples to put Jimmy Alapag ahead of Ryan Reyes and Alex Cabagnot. With Jayson Castro emerging as TNT’s point guard of the future (very near future), Ryan Reyes (being their best perimeter defender and best shooter) seems more valuable to the Tropa right now. When comparing apples to apples, Alex Cabagnot has been steadier than Alapag as of late; dishing out more apg for more than a year already.
But one has to look at the trophy room to appreciate the Mighty Mouse.
Season 36 MVP. Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup Finals Co-MVP. 2 Championships and a proud showing in the Fiba Asia Championships. With last year in the books, Jimmy Alapag has practically done everything in his career. Although you can expect his numbers to gradually go down from now on with injuries and father time catching up on him, his personal numbers don’t show his true value.
After 8 games in PBA Season 37, TNT is averaging 95 points per game. Last year, with Alapag and without Japeth Aguilar, TNT was averaging more than 100 points per game. Although they sit atop the standings (7-1), they don’t look as good as when Mighty Mouse is in the lineup. He just puts everyone in position and makes his teammates better. I don’t think he is their most valuable player because they can definitely win it all without him but the quality of basketball they are able to play when he is there is definitely an upgrade from when he is not. Truly the heart and soul of TNT.
9. Mark Cardona
Current Philippine Cup Averages: 15.67ppg 4.17rpg 2.83apg 1.5spg 41.9FG% 41.2 3PT%
2008-2009 Mythical First Team
2006-2007 Best Player of the Conference (Fiesta Cup)
2008-2009 Finals MVP Philippine Cup
A better scorer than Ryan Reyes and a much better defender than Gary David, Mac Mac Cardona can be an irritant for opponents sometimes. I mean always. Not only with his antics but also with the most unstoppable shot in the PBA. When his trademark teardrop/hook shot is locked and loaded he goes into swagger mode and defenses would be hard pressed to stop him. He is one of the players in the PBA who can just give you 25 on any given night and it’s so scary to think that he is capable of doing so with an incomplete offensive game. It’s no secret that Cardona has practically no midrange game. This has something to do with the way he shoots his jump shots. There is just something mechanically incorrect with his release that makes it hard for him to go off the dribble and shoot an open 17-20 foot jumpshot. So for him, it’s either a 3-point shot (which comes and goes) or a hard drive to the basket.
While he does most of his damage offensively and psychologically, Captain Hook is no slouch on defense either. With a Green pedigree, he plays tenacious D like what’s expected of every La Sallian not named Ren Ren Ritualo.
I think what separates him from other 2-guards is his demeanor during games; confident, feisty and intense. Parang kung may kakampi kang katulad ni Mac Mac, gaganahan ka talaga maglaro.
8. Kelly Williams
Current Philippine Cup Averages: 13.67ppg 8.83rpg 1.17apg 1.33bpg 40.6FG%
2006-2008, 2010-2011 Mythical First Team
2007-2008 All-Defensive Team
2007-2008 Best Player of the Conference
2009-2010 Comeback Player of the Year
Opposing power forwards are at his mercy when he comes down from the top of the key, shakes and bakes with the in-and-out dribble and crosses over and then goes strong to the hoop on either side. 2 points, 2 shots or And 1. Guards think twice on coming off pick and rolls because they know Kelly Williams will go hard at them. Kelly Williams has the speed, the handles and the lateral quickness of a small forward trapped in a power forward’s body. That’s why he creates so many mismatches when he plays the 4 or the 5. Apart from being an offensive nightmare, Williams is one of the best if not the best defensive big men in the PBA; being able to defend the post, the perimeter, the pick and roll, and explosively come off the weak side to offer help defense. No doubt, Machine Gun Kelly is the most versatile big man in the PBA offensively and defensively.
Although his production has considerably gone down from his MVP days with the Sta. Lucia franchise (because of a stacked TNT lineup more than anything), Machine Gun Kelly is still considered one of the best big men in the league. Why? Because aside from hitting the J occasionally and going strong to the basket, Williams is willing to do the dirty work and take a back seat even though he’s still capable of being the best player in the league. He will set solid screens, bang bodies and take elbows. Most of all, he will rebound the hell out of the ball.
7. Jayson Castro
Current Philippine Cup Averages: 15.62ppg 5.5rpg 5.75apg 1.38spg 40.2FG% 38.7FG%
2010-2011 Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP
2010-2011 Most Improved Player
Okay. I think we should all stop being coy like Jayson Castro and say that he is TNT’s best player. Yes. Better than Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag. After that courageous performance in Game 7 of the Governor’s Cup Finals (which dramatically resembles Isaiah Thomas’ gutsy game against L.A. in the 1988 NBA Finals), I think it’s Jayson’s time to shine. Did you see that game against RoS where TNT exclusively went to Castro in the 4th and the OT? If you put The Blur on 10 straight pick and rolls, he will probably score or dish out an assist 8 times. Arguably, he is the second best penetrator in the PBA (you will later find out who’s the best) and this ability not only allows him to score at will but it also creates infinite opportunities for his teammates.
I sometimes think that Jayson Castro’s inability to consistently make the mid-range J is a blessing in disguise for TNT because it forces Castro to penetrate and suck the defense to the paint thus opening up drop passes and kick outs.
The former PCU Dolphin’s propensity to draw ooohhhs and aaahhhs from the crowd on the offensive side overshadows his value on defense. Let us not forget that one of the things that scouts were high on when he was coming out of college was his ability to disrupt the flow of the opposing team’s offense by pressuring the ball handler. I think it’s there, it’s just being overshadowed by his offensive skills. Try to look at the other side of the ball and you may notice that he can be an animal on D.
Considering Jimmy Alapag is at the twilight of his career, The Blur should start at the point guard spot by next year. Despite TNT’s offense still looking awkward when it starts with Castro, I think his potential will only be maximized at the point guard position. With his ability to break down the defense, he should be unstoppable once Chot Reyes gives him the keys. He just has to improve his jumpshot.
6. LA Tenorio
Current Philippine Cup Averages: 13.1ppg 5.3rpg 5.0apg 1.0spg 34.4FG% 15.6 3PT%
2009-2010 Most Improved Player
2009-2010 Mythical First Team
2009-2010 Fiesta Conference Finals MVP
That glorious run by the Alaska Aces in the 2009-2010 Fiesta Conference wherein they went through Barangay Ginebra, Talk n’ Text and San Miguel to finish as Champions established L.A. Tenorio as the best point guard in the PBA (going against Helterbrand, Alapag and Cabagnot). From where I stand, he still is. Although there can be some games where he makes you think otherwise.
Tinyente Tenorio scored 28, 23 and a 6-point stinker in a recent three-game stretch. That’s how inconsistent he can be when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop. However, there is one thing you can count on with the former King Eagle, it is that he will perfectly set the table up every time his team starts its offensive attacks. If Jimmy Alapag makes TNT play better basketball like a lubricant makes a machine run more efficiently, Tenorio is Alaska’s engine. Quite simply, if you take out Tenorio the Aces’ offense would not run. Alaska’s futility when L.A. is on the bench is so obvious like a green shirt in the Ateneo side.
When you say MVP for what every initial really means, I think that the Alaska point guard, relative to his team, just might be the most valuable player in the PBA. I’m just saying that no other player is more important to his team than L.A. Tenorio. Obviously, I’m not saying he is the best player in the PBA.