PBA players who sported unusual jersey numbers

Special Olympics athlete Matthew Millett of Team USA with the 3/4 court buzzer beater!

A huge part of remembering our basketball idols is through their jersey numbers. 

For the most part, choosing a jersey number comes with a back story. Sometimes, it’s probably just a force of habit.

From #0 to the iconic #23, and from the Kobe-inspired #24 to the irrelevant #50, we’d always see jersey numbers worn from that range.

Today we listed down some of our PBA players who have donned seldom-used jersey numbers in their time in the league:

61: Kevin Racal

In his stay with the Letran Knights, Kevin Racal sported #16 probably because of his birthday, which falls on the 16th day of May 1991. The #61 that he wears today in the PBA is basically an inversion of the #16. He is currently a rotation player for Alaska at the guard position.

71: Ronald Tubid

It remains to be seen why Ronald Tubid has worn #71 in his 15 years with the league. The bearded journeyman has bounced around six teams wearing the said number – except in the 2011 Philippine Cup ,where he wore the #15 because it represents the date of his birthday.

77: Arnold Van Opstal

The former DLSU slotman has worn #7 for most of his basketball career. Now playing for GlobalPort Batang Pier, he probably switched #77 probably because of the arrival of Moala Tautuaa, who is part of the blockbuster Terrence Romeo trade.

87: Vic Manuel

Having played his sixth season, The Muscle Man ditched his usual #4 to #87 as a fitting tribute to his daughter, whose birthday is on August 7. After suffering nagging injuries last year, Manuel hopes that the number change brings better luck for him and his team.

88: Calvin Abueva, Mick Pennisi and Asi Taulava

A fresh start waits anew for Calvin Abueva when he switched his jersey number to #88 this year. The six-year veteran sported #8 for most of his career.

“‘Yung nangyari sakin past 3 weeks, naano ako, sobrang lungkot ko, ‘yung nangyari sa family ko, nangyari sakin. Kaya ngayon, pinalitan ko ‘yung number ko ng 88 kaya The Beast 2.0. Pinakita ko, pinanindigan ko sa sarili ko na kaya ko ‘to lusutan,” said Abueva when asked as to why he made the number change.

Fil-Aussie Mick Pennisi has been a strong, towering presence in the PBA. His primary role was to provide a physical interior presence and outside shooting when needed. While he wore numbers #7 and #34, he would go on to wear #88 at the latter part of his career. Of course, no one can forget his famous flop.

Still going strong in his 40’s, Asi Taulava has become one of the league’s most durable players and he believes that it has something to do with his #88 jersey number. It is worth noting that his wife’s favorite number is #8 and despite wearing #55 early on in his career, Asi’s limited team success may have prompted the said change.

91: Rodney Brondial

It is fitting that the former Adamson big man would wear #91 because of his fondness to Dennis Rodman. His blue-collar work ethic has earned for himself playing minutes as the Magnolia Hotshots’ back up in their frontcourt.

95: Yancy de Ocampo

In his 16 years in the league, Yancy de Ocampo is one of the league’s longest-tenured journeymen. Despite donning different jerseys all these years, he stuck with his #95 primarily because the numbers nine and five are his kids’ favorite numbers. Add along to the fact that one of his kids likes watching Lightning McQueen from the movie Cars, then the #95 makes a lot of sense.

98: Gilbert Lao

Former PBA journeyman Gilbert Lao wore this number. In his heyday, he carved out a successful career as a back up big for every team that he’s played for. He currently is part of the TNT coaching staff after a brief stint with the FEU Tamaraws.

99: Rudy Hatfield

The H-bomb was one of the PBA’s fan favorites primarily due to his energy and hustle on the court. He would often find himself diving for loose balls and even made a shot lying on the floor. He went on to have a productive PBA career, playing mostly for Ginebra while wearing #99.

111: Bruce “Sky” King

You can’t come up with a more unusual number than Bruce King’s #111. The former PBA import teamed up with the fabled Toyota franchise that took the league by storm in the 70’s, playing with the likes of Robert Jaworski, Abe King, and Ramon Fernandez. King succumbed to a heart attack in 2010.