Numerous collegiate stars have carried over their success to the professional ranks.
Each UAAP school has contributed its fair share of players who have established themselves as all-time greats in the PBA.
In this article, we take a look at each UAAP school’s product who has had the most success in the PBA based on a combination of individual statistics and accolades, championships won, and impact on the league.
Just so we are clear here, we are looking at their PBA careers in this article and not their collegiate careers.
UE Red Warriors
UE has produced MVPs in James Yap and Allan Caidic. The likes of Jerry Codiñera, Jimmy Manansala, Bong Ravena, and Paul Lee have also proudly donned the Red Warrior jersey. These players have had outstanding runs in the PBA. But it would be foolhardy not to bestow the honor of the top PBA player from UE to none other than the man almost synonymous to the PBA, Robert Jaworski.
The ‘Big J’ was the 1978 league MVP when he averaged 20 points, 12 assists, and almost 9 boards a game. He wa arguably one of the first prototypes of the rebounding guard as evidenced by him being the first point guard to collar 1,000 offensive boards and 2,000 defensive boards.
He was part of the great Toyota team which won 9 PBA titles. As a playing coach, he led Ginebra/Añejo to 4 championships. He was also named the head coach of the first all-pro national team to the 1990 Asian Games.
When you think of an NU Bulldog who became a bonafide PBA star, there is no one bigger than Danny Ildefonso. He joined the league in 1998 and immediately helped the San Miguel Beermen re-establish themselves as a championship contender. He would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award.
The ‘Demolition Man’ is one of only four players to have won back-to-back MVP honors. He was named Best Player in 5 straight conferences in a remarkable stretch from 2000-01.
He won his first MVP award in just his third season in the pros after leading the Beermen to the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup championships in 2000. He then swept the BPC the next season and was the anchor of the Beermen’s All-Filipino title romp.
Hector Calma brought Adamson its only UAAP title in 1977. ‘The Director’ orchestrated the San Miguel Grand Slam in 1989 and was widely regarded as one of the best point guards in the league in the late ’80s. But as good a PBA career as Calma had, he probably is only 2nd best when we talk about Adamson products who became PBA stars.
The top honors will have to go to Kenneth Duremdes. Captain Marbel’s best years as a pro were spent with Alaska. He was named PBA MVP in 1998, the same year Alaska won the All-Filipino and Commissioner’s Cup championships.
He was finals MVP in those two title runs of Alaska. Duremdes would end his career with 6 titles, 2 Best Player of the Conference Awards, 2 Mythical 1st Team selections, and 3 Mythical 2nd Team Selections.
The UAAP’s winningest team has certainly contributed a long list of players like Marte Saldaña, Vic Pablo, Gerry Esplana, and Terrence Romeo who have had stellar PBA careers. 2013 MVP Arwind Santos definitely has staked his claim as the King Tamarraw who has had the best PBA career, if only there wasn’t another player from Morayta who stood 9 inches shorter than Santos but had as much individual achievements and more championships.
Johnny Abarrientos redefined the point guard position in the PBA by showcasing a combination of dizzying speed, guile, defensive prowess, and the ability to control a game.
Abarrientos won the Grand Slam with Alaska in 1996 and was named that year’s MVP. Abarrientos was also no slouch on defense as he was named 5 times to the All-Defensive Team.
UP Fighting Maroons
This is a no-brainer. Benjie Paras, the only player in history to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player awards in the same year. There is a reason he was called the ‘Tower of Power’, and it was because when focused on his basketball career, Paras was simply a dominant force down low.
Ten years after being named MVP, Paras showed a more mature game aided by a reliable set shot from the perimeter which made him even more difficult to defend as his strength down low remained the same even with the influx of bigger and younger Filipino-American players.
He bagged his 2nd MVP award in 1999 to cement his legacy as one of the best centers to ever play in the PBA. Paras would end his career with 4 titles and 5 Mythical 1st Team selections.
Ateneo Blue Eagles
The younger generation will probably consider Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Olsen Racela, Enrico Villanueva, or LA Tenorio when asked which Blue Eagle has had the most impressive PBA career. There has never been an Atenean who has won a PBA MVP award. There is one, however, who came very close. That man is Francis Arnaiz who in 1975 was named by the media as the Basketball Player of the Year even if the MVP award went to Bogs Adornado.
Arnaiz won the NCAA championship in his rookie year with the Blue Eagles. In the PBA, Arnaiz teamed up with Jaworski to form one of the best backcourt tandems the league has ever seen. Arnaiz was known as ‘Mr.Clutch’ which he best displayed with his deadly quick-release jumpers and looping layups.
He made the Mythical 1st Team three times. Arnaiz was Toyota’s most potent offensive weapon as he was the 2nd player in history to score 5,000 points, a feat he accomplished in 1979, a year before Jaworski and Fernandez reached the same milestone.
UST Glowing Goldies/Growling Tigers
From the pillars of España emerged so many outstanding basketball players. Dennis Espino, Danny Florencio, Bal David, Pido Jarencio. and Rey Evangelista are just some of the great ballers to come out of UST. But there is an undisputed name from UST who is one of the greatest to play in the PBA. He is William “Bogs” Adornado.
Adornado won the MVP awards as part of the Cripa Redmanizers in the PBA’s first two seasons. He won his 3rd MVP trophy in 1981 while playing for U-Tex. Adornado is one of the most potent scorers in the annals of the PBA.
In his very first game in 1975, he scored 32 points. He reached the 2,000 points mark in 1976, just a little over a year after the PBA started. He once scored 64 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a game in 1980. Adornado led the league in scoring 5 times and is the 3rd player to reach the 10,000 points milestone.
De La Salle Green Archers
It is tough choosing between two great King Archers: Lim Eng Beng or Jun Limpot. Limpot is a former Rookie of the Year and a 2-time member of the 2nd Mythical Team. Lim, La Salle’s top gunner in the NCAA in the early 70’s, made the PBA Mythical First Team once and has won more championships than Limpot who has only 1 title. Lim won two crowns for U-Tex, a remarkable feat in an era dominated by Crispa and Toyota.
On that merit, we will have to go with Lim with Limpot as a close second. Lim was known as a deadly offensive threat who could score from anywhere on the court. He is the 10th player in history to score 5,000 points, hitting that milestone in 1982.
The broad-shouldered Lim had a mid-range jumper that has been described by former Manila Beer Assistant Coach Nemie Villegas as “as accurate as a dunk”.
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