PBA’s All-Time Top 7 Small Forwards

Basketball 3-pointer: High school athlete with a disability hits shot of a lifetime

The Small Forward is one of the most versatile positions, especially in the modern game of basketball. They are typically bigger than guards but are also quicker and leaner than power forwards and centers. 

They are often tasked to do a much wider role depending on the team’s offensive and defensive philosophies.

As PBA fans, we’ve all been blessed to witness a fair share of great small forwards, showcasing their versatility and athleticism over the years.

Here at FOX Sports Philippines, we continue to celebrate some of the “PBA’s Greatest”, listing down the league’s Top 7 wing men in history. Note that these icons were ranked based on team and individual achievements won, and their overall impact in the PBA:

Honorable Mentions: Alvin Patrimonio (played mostly at PF), Gabe Norwood, Danny Florencio, Arwind Santos, Vic Pablo, Danny Seigle, Nic Belasco, Ranidel de Ocampo

7. Chito Loyzaga
8 championships, 7-time PBA All-Defensive Team, PBA Mythical Second Team

Being the son of basketball legend Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga, Chito is probably one of the league’s 3-and-D pioneers, as he was known for his tenacious defense and sweet shooting from way out. In his 10 years in the PBA, he played his part for the Toyota-Crispa rivalry and the then-young Great Taste team that won multiple titles.

He was later on traded to the Ginebra franchise where he spent his last eight seasons, winning three titles in the process. Chito Loyzaga was part of the PBA All-Defensive Team spanning from 1984 to 1992.

Even when he retired from playing pro ball, Loyzaga made his imprint in the local basketball scene by serving before as a commissioner of the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association and as a chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.

6. Jojo Lastimosa
10 championships, 1988 Rookie of the Year, 3-time PBA Mythical Second Team, 3-time PBA Mythical Five

By the time he stepped into the league in 1988, Jojo Lastimosa already made an impact by winning the Rookie of the Year award. He won his first championship in 1990 with the Purefoods franchise and was part of the 1996 Alaska Grand Slam Team.

Lastimosa had it all on the offensive end – he can isolate, drive by you, or spot up from deep. As a defender, you could only pray that he’ll miss his shots once he gets going. When Jeff Cariaso joined the Alaska Aces as a rookie, the pride of University of San Jose Recolletos  has assumed the role as swingman where the squad won five championships.

He reverted to playing the big guard spot when Kenneth Duremdes joined the squad in 1997.

After his playing career, Lastimosa served as an assistant coach for the Alaska Aces and the NLEX Road Warriors.

5. Vergel Meneses
3 championships, 1995 PBA MVP, 3-time Best Player of the Conference, 2-time PBA Mythical First Team, 1993 PBA Mythical Second Team, 1993 PBA’s Most Improved Player

Widely known as the “Aerial Voyager”, Vergel Meneses was known for his hang time , finishing around defenders with grace. After spending time with Presto Ice Cream and the  Sta. Lucia Realtors, his career blossomed when he was acquired by Swift/Sunkist/Pop Cola franchise, winning majority of his accolades. He later on played for Ginebra, FedEx, Red Bull and TNT to round out his 17-year PBA career.

In his post-pro career, Meneses had his coaching stints in the collegiate and amateur ranks

4. Freddie Hubalde
16 championships, 1977 PBA MVP, 3-time PBA Mythical First Team

Crispa legend Freddie Hubalde is one of the winningest players in PBA history, placing only second to Ramon Fernandez, who won a record 19 championships. His ever-reliable outside shooting and active hands on defense were key components to his team’s success every time he plays on the hardwood. He was known for the “back-tap”, a crafty defensive tactic to pluck away the ball from behind off the ball handler. But his ultimate trademark was the bank shot or pabanda, which younger generation players used to emulate.

After his time in Crispa, he helped the Tanduay Rhum Makers to winning multiple titles.  He also had stops with Purefoods and Shell.

3. James Yap
7 championships, 4-time Finals MVP, 2-time PBA MVP, 3-time PBA Mythical First Team, 2011 PBA Mythical Second Team

Prior to his entry to the league, the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants were coming off an abysmal season, failing to enter the quarterfinals in three conferences. Not only did  Yap become the newest vital cog, but he succeeded Alvin Patrimonio to become the face of the franchise.

Yap showed his scoring prowess right away in his rookie season- using his length to get his shot off his defenders. He is well known for making timely baskets for his team, thus, earning his moniker, “Big Game” James.

The 6-foot-3 pride of Escalante, Negros would win multiple titles and individual accolades along the way. He is currently playing for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

2. Kenneth Duremdes
6 championships, 2-time Finals MVP, 1998 PBA MVP, 2-time PBA Mythical First Team, 3-time PBA Mythical Second Team, 2-time Best Player of the Conference

Early on in his career, Kenneth Duremdes would play as second fiddle for Vergel Meneses at Sunkist, but a trade in 1997 with Dwight Lago would pave the way for the rise of Captain Marbel as one of the big-time players in the league.

In 1998, he would become the league’s Most Valuable Player in the PBA and would assume the role as the Aces’ new top gun.

In 2003, despite having success with Alaska, he was shockingly traded to the Sta. Lucia Realtors to make room for the Aces’ salary cap.  He later on made his last stop as a pro for the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2007 to 2008.

1. Bogs Adornado
10 championships, 3-time PBA MVP, 7-time PBA Mythical First Team, 1984 PBA Mythical Second Team

When the PBA was formed in 1975, William “Bogs” Adornado used it as his own personal playground- under legendary coach Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan while playing for the fabled Crispa Redmanizers. He would become the first back-to-back MVP awardee in 1975-76.

He suffered a knee injury in the 1976 Open Conference, which almost ended his playing career. But he eventually regained his form, winning another title at the expense of arch nemesis Toyota in the 1979 All-Filipino Conference Cup.

He had his best game of his career in late 1980, where he tallied 64 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block for the U/Tex Wranglers where he won his third MVP award the following year.

In honor of his great comeback from his horrific knee injury in 1976, the Comeback Player of the Year Award was named as the William “Bogs” Adornado Trophy by the PBA Press Corps.