Bring back one-on-one competitions to settle PBA player rivalries

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Sports talk is often dominated by the following questions: Who won? What happened? What could have been done? Who’s better?

The first three questions can readily be answered by paying close attention to the game. But the fourth often undergoes debate wherein accolades and stats are shared. The answer will not be settled despite the presentation of evidences.

Due to intense player rivalries, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has been riddled by this question throughout its existence. Who’s the best player in a certain position? Who’s the best import? Who’s the most dependable in clutch situations? We can speculate all we want to come up with a conclusion but the league once had a solution to settle the matter.

PBA historian Jay P. Mercado shared that one-on-one competitions between the league’s top players were conducted during the 1970’s and 1980’s. “The first one was in 1975, when Manny Paner won the title. The second one was a greater success, when Philip Cezar won the Keyhole King award at the expense of Ramon Fernandez, beating him, 19-17, in the Finals,” Mercado added.

However, the one-on-one competitions were not without controversy. Mercado shared, “Fernandez redeemed himself in 1982 when he won the tournament over Rey Lazaro in the Finals. It was a tournament though that Cezar didn’t compete in, as the Scholar wanted to be seeded outright in the Finals being the defending champion.” A year later, Abe King won the competition to validate his place as one of the PBA’s greatest players.

Why bring back the one-on-one competitions?

Now that there are a lot of avenues to share our views about sports, the league can bank on such banter to hype the match-ups. A simple post of a game schedule between, let’s say, Arwind Santos versus Marc Pingris can generate a tremendous amount of buzz that will ultimately bring more awareness for the league. Likewise, people will tune in to these contests which will keep television ratings and audience share up.

The league can also stream the matches online and watch as it becomes viral with each like or share. That would be a great opportunity for an advertiser whose target market are PBA fans. In terms of in-game experience, the one-on-one competitions will also be a nice side treat to the main course. Not only will people come in to watch the double-header but also pay attention to the one-on-one match.

One-on-one match-ups we would like to see

Of course, making this happen entails the cooperation among the league, the teams, and the participating players. Injury concerns are of foremost consideration before the pros are allowed to enter the contest. But if for some reason the stars aligned perfectly and this came true, here’s what I think are some intriguing match-ups:

  • June Mar Fajardo vs Greg Slaughter – Once CESAFI rivals, now PBA antagonists. For one match, who’s the better center between the two? This would be a game of big proportions.
  • Stanley Pringle vs Terrence Romeo – Aside from the final score, people will pay attention as to who performed more crossovers.
  • James Yap vs Mark Caguioa – It would be like Manila Clasico all over again. Two former league MVPs whose games are often linked because they play the same position.
  • Christian Standhardinger vs Beau Belga – Bulk against bulk, muscle against muscle. Who will win this physical match-up?
  • Scottie Thompson vs Rashawn McCarthy – Two guards that can fill the stat sheet. Who will be victorious?
  • Import match-ups – If they can’t win the Best Import award, they can go after this title.

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