The UAAP is arguably the most popular and prestigious collegiate league in the country today. Thanks to strong alumni support, strategic television deals, and committed basketball programs, the UAAP has really elevated itself above other collegiate competitions – particularly since the turn of the millennium.
To commemorate the league’s success since then, we at FOX Sports decided to come up with each school’s post-2000 starting five. To culminate the series, we decided to honor the best of the best and present the whole UAAP’s post-2000 starting five:
Kiefer Ravena, Ateneo de Manila (PG/SG)
The Phenom was one of the best scorers the UAAP had ever seen and was capable of playing both guard spots. Many lauded him for his high basketball IQ, which he used to manipulate opponents to his whims. He was also an underrated playmaker (he led the league in assists in his last two seasons) and defender in college.
Ravena finished his decorated UAAP career with a Rookie of the Year, three Mythical Five selections, two MVPs, two Finals appearances, and two championships. Ravena is arguably the best Ateneo player since 2000, and for that, he earns a spot on this list.
James Yap, University of the East (SG/SF)
Before he became a national superstar in the PBA, James Yap was the main man for one of the best UE teams in recent memory. Yap could score from practically anywhere on the court and there was nothing that his defenders could do to stop him. He even had the size and athleticism to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions for the Red Warriors.
The pride of Negros Occidental finished his UAAP career with two Mythical Five selections and one MVP award. Although he never made it to the Finals, the James Yap era is still one of the most fondly remembered recent stretches in UE history.
Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., National University (PG/SG/SF)
The embodiment of NU’s return to relevance in the UAAP basketball scene, Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. was immediately one of the best players in the league the moment he set foot on a UAAP court. He was an all-around player with virtually no weaknesses to his game. He can hit it from the outside, drive to the basket, create shots for himself and for others. And at 6’4 with above average athleticism, he had the size and mobility to defend multiple positions in the UAAP. His time spent playing high school basketball in the United States also allowed him to play as a guard despite having the height of a big man in the UAAP.
The son of legendary PBA import Bobby Parks won the league MVP in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs while turning NU into a consistent Final Four contender.
Arwind Santos, Far Eastern University (PF)
As great as Arwind Santos has been in the PBA (former MVP, perrenial all-star and Mythical Team member, multiple championships, etc.), you cannot discuss his basketball legacy without mentioning his time with the FEU Tamaraws in the UAAP. The lanky forward was unstoppable for the Tamaraws with his combination of perimeter and inside skills to go along with his springy athleticism.
Santos finished his UAAP career with three titles*, two MVPs, two Finals MVPs, three Mythical Five selections, and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He is also one of just two Tamaraws to have their jersey retired by FEU, with the other being the great Johnny Abarrientos. The pride of Angeles, Pampanga is undoubtedly one of the greatest UAAP players of all-time.
*the second of which was awarded to FEU after their Finals opponent and winner, De La Salle University, was found out to have fielded in ineligible players for that season
Ben Mbala, De La Salle University (C)
Despite only playing two seasons, Ben Mbala definitely made his mark for the DLSU Green Archers and the UAAP. He was a dominant force on both ends of the court inside the paint and even developed a perimeter game during his second season.
In his brief stint in the league, the hulking Cameroonian won two MVPs and two Mythical Five selections while leading La Salle to two Finals appearances and one championship.
Honorable mentions: Enrico Villanueva (ADMU), Terrence Romeo (FEU), Jeron Teng (DLSU), Jervy Cruz (UST), Rabeh Al-Hussaini (ADMU), Paul Lee (UE), RR Garcia (FEU), LA Tenorio (ADMU), Ken Bono (AdU), Mac Cardona (DLSU)
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