They say basketball is a young man’s game.
Some players age like fine wine, while some eventually succumb to the gripping clutches of the undefeated “Father Time”.
Although their speed and athleticism might no longer be the same as when they first entered the league, these seasoned veterans relied on wisdom and experience to keep up with (and sometimes even outplay) their much younger counterparts.
FOX Sports Philippines recalls how the PBA’s oldest players fared in the 2017-18 PBA season.
Mark Caguioa (Season averages: 3.64 points, 2.45 rebounds, 0.29 assists)
Once regarded as one of the league’s most explosive scorers in history, Mark Caguioa has taken more of a mentorship role during his 17th season in the PBA. The 39-year-old guard has taken the team’s budding superstar Scottie Thompson under his wing, and has emerged as coach Tim Cone’s second lieutenant in the sidelines.
Although he only played under 10 minutes per contest last season, Caguioa’s veteran leadership was vital for Ginebra, especially during their title run in the Commissioner’s Cup. “The Spark” also joined a prestige club last October, as he reached his 10,000 career points milestone.
James Yap (Season averages: 9.37 points, 2.63 rebounds, 0.94 assists)
“Big Game” James Yap played his first full season under coach Caloy Garcia and the Rain or Shine brass. Although his numbers drastically dropped from his Magnolia days, the 36-year-old sniper still showed flashes of his old self by dropping several 20-plus point performances.
Yap also proved that he is still a reliable threat from deep, draining 33 percent of his three-point attempts in the three conferences.
Peter June Simon (Season Averages: 5.53 points, 2.69 rebounds, 0.42 assists)
Like Caguioa, “The Scoring Apostle” Peter June Simon also took a step back in terms of time on the court and has become an elder statesman for Magnolia’s bevy of talented guards.
Despite a shorter playing time, the 38-year-old scorer proved he can still put up buckets in limited minutes and has continued to be a spark plug off the bench for the decorated franchise. Simon also captured another PBA title in 2018 Governors’ Cup — his eight since joining the league in 2004.
Asi Taulava (Season Averages: 3.00 points, 2.75 rebounds, 0.6 assists)
At 45 years old, “The Ageless One” Asi Taulava is the oldest active player in the league today. Although his athleticism and mobility certainly took a dip, Taulava’s hefty 6’9 frame has allowed him to still match-up against young behemoths like June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter.
His newly-discovered touch from downtown was a big help for RoS-Pilipinas during the 2018 Asian Games.
Reynel Hugnatan (Season Averages: 6.04 points, 2.52 rebounds, 1.38 assists)
Speaking of bruisers who redefined their games, Reynel Hugnatan’s name certainly come to mind. The 40-year-old lefty has prolonged his career by becoming one of the league’s best stretch forwards, and has become a fixture in Meralco’s offense.
With Ranidel de Ocampo and Cliff Hodge out to injuries during Meralco’s surge in the Governors’ Cup, Hugnatan stepped up big time with his defense and floor spacing.
(Images from PBA)