In 1999, an exceptional rookie went up against an established veteran for the league’s top individual plum.
Danny Seigle, San Miguel’s rookie sensation in 1999, took the league by storm with an explosive showing in just his debut season. The 6’6 forward out of Wagner University instantly became a vital cog for the Beermen’s PBA campaign in 1999.
Looking over the fence was Shell’s Benjie Paras, the PBA’s Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1989. On a sudden career resurgence, Paras flipped the switch in 1999 on the face of the “Fil-foreign” invasion, led by bigger and burlier frontcourt players.
Seigle would help the Beermen capture the championship in the two import-laden conferences. On the other hand, Paras would guide the Turbo Chargers to a surprising All-Filipino Cup triumph over the heavily-favored Tanduay Rhum Masters.
Both Seigle and Paras were considered as the driving force for the title drives of their respective teams.
So when the time came in selecting the season’s rightful MVP, both Seigle and Paras were high on the list of basketball fans and pundits. The caveat for Seigle was obvious: Here is a rookie who just helped his team capture two PBA titles, grabbing two Finals MVP awards in the process and had a chance of rewriting history by becoming the league’s only second Rookie/MVP winner.
But as history would have it, Paras would be adjudged as the 1999 PBA MVP. Seigle would walk away with the Rookie of the Year trophy and an inclusion into the Mythical First Team along with Paras, Johnny Abarrientos, Jeff Cariaso and Sonny Alvarado.
In an online interview with FOX Sports Philippines, Seigle shared his thoughts on his MVP duel with Paras in 1999. According to Seigle, he thought his name would be called for both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. “Yes, humbly, I felt the PBA should have made me Rookie of the Year and MVP. I won two championships and two Finals MVPs that year, and had superior stats to support them. But honestly, it didn’t bother me back then as I never chased individual awards”, said Seigle.
Contrastingly, Paras was the sentimental favorite and a worthy adversary for Seigle. Ten years since his first MVP coronation, the “Tower of Power” would have another shot at the prestigious individual citation- in a time where the basketball landscape has drastically changed in the country. The former University of the Philippines was a man on a mission and played with a chip on his shoulder.
Seigle had nothing but praise for Paras. “I lost to a legend, Benjie Paras, who was playing well that year,” added Seigle.
In the end, Seigle fondly looks back at his championships of San Miguel, rather than that epic MVP race in 1999. “Winning championships, delivering what my organization expected of me, and giving the fans – the reason why we play this game – what they wanted was always my focus and motivation. To me, that’s more rewarding,” said Seigle in closing.
Photo credits: Danny Seigle’s Facebook Page, PBA Throwback and Trivia Facebook Page