Throughout its 34 years of existence, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has showcased the best of Philippine basketball to the delight of millions of Filipinos nationwide. To any player who aspires for a career in basketball, getting on the lineup of a PBA team represents the end-all of his ambitions.
De La Salle University has produced quite a number of notable PBA players such as Lim Eng Beng, Franz and Dindo Pumaren, Jun Limpot, Noli Locsin, Dwight and Elmer Lago to name a few. Most of these former Green Archers have made significant contributions in helping their teams attain success in the country’s premier basketball league. This is a testament to the strength of the DLSU basketball program over the years, which has recruited and developed players who had the talent and determination to make it in the big league that is the PBA.
As the new PBA season opened recently, we feature the former Green Archers currently in the active roster.
Pocholo Villanueva (2001-2002, 2004-2005, 2007) –Air 21 Express
For a team that is known for their free-wheeling type of game, selecting Cholo in the recent draft is quite strange. It remains to be seen if Cholo’s deliberate style would fit well with the Express. Nevertheless, the team would certainly need his steadiness and backcourt brilliance especially in pressure situations where they seem to falter in most cases. Knowing Cholo, he thrives under pressure.
Adonis Sta. Maria (1998, 2000-2002) – Air 21 Express
The 6’3 forward is currently playing for his 4th team in 6 years. He was initially without a team at the start of this season but when Air21 badly needed someone to shore-up their decimated frontline, he readily responded to the opportunity and has adjusted quite well to the Express’ run-and-gun style.
Santiago Cabatu Jr (2002-2005) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
At this stage of his professional career, Junjun is already considered a journeyman having already played for 3 teams in as many years. He was among those directly elevated by Welcoat from their amateur team but unfortunately was not able to get the opportunity to shine. He faced the same situation during his sophomore year at Alaska, playing behind the more senior players in his position. Without a team during the early stages of the offseason, he fortunately was able to make the final cut in the Ginebra roster. The current absence of their resident stalwarts due to injuries gives Junjun a chance to prove to everyone that he still belongs to the PBA.
William Joel Wilson (1998-2002) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
He has always been a reliable player coming off the bench in his entire career. Though a bit undersized for his position in the professional level, he further developed his perimeter game. Willie tasted his first PBA championship last conference with Ginebra and is currently among those effectively filling-in for the team’s injured starters.
Jose Redempto Aquino (2002-2005) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
JR may not be one of the most talented players but he is definitely one of the most hard-working. Such perseverance was made evident when he worked his way to land a spot in the Ginebra roster despite not being drafted last year. This alone is truly an achievement for someone who many thought has not what it takes to pursue a career in basketball. The PBA will always have a place for a player with an utmost determination to succeed such as JR.
Mark Clemence Telan (1993-1997) – Coca Cola Tigers
Now playing for his 5th ballclub, the two-time UAAP MVP has had a steady pro career since 1999. A 6’6 center with a mentality of a shooting-guard, he may not be the superstar as he was during his collegiate career but his versatility will forever be an asset to wherever team he plays for.
Tyrone Tang (2002-2005, 2007) – Rain or Shine Elastopainters
Rain or Shine hopes that by picking TY in the recent draft, his championship experience would rub-off on the team who has so far achieved nothing but mediocrity in all their years in the league. TY is a proven winner, having won championships in all the leagues that he has played. His steady play-making and outside snipping would be a valuable asset to the Painters.
Ryan Arana (2003-2005) – Rain or Shine Elastopainters
With his all-around hustle and uncanny ability to make a shot in even the tightest situations, it was definitely clear that Ryan has what it takes to make it to the next level. Rain or Shine seems to be perfect fit for this 6’0 guard who thrives in the open court. The Painter’s uptempo style gives Ryan the opportunity to be among the focal points in their running attack. Of course, one should not overlook his defensive skills as well.
Ram Carlo Sharma (2001-2003) – Red Bull Barako
Similar to what was recently achieved by his half-brother Rabah Al-Husseini, Carlo’s game took a humungous step forward in just one year. Languishing in the bench and even the inactive list of his previous teams, Carlo’s career resurrected tremendously when he transferred to Red Bull. Playing under a coach who seems to have a knack in bringing out the best in all his players, Carlo is now the team’s starting center.
Mike Cortez (2000-2002) – San Miguel Beermen
Selected 1st overall by Alaska during the 2003 draft, the Cool Cat has been struggling to be the same electrifying player as he was during his days with the Green Archers. No thanks to the many injuries he has sustained during his 6-year professional career. Now playing for the San Miguel Beermen, Mike hopes to take his new team to the top once more and prove to everyone that he still has what it takes to be among the elite guards in the PBA.
Joseph Henry Yeo (2001-2005) – Sta Lucia Realtors
It wasn’t until his sophomore year that PBA fans finally got to fully witness the high-flying act of The Ninja. Joseph struggled in his rookie season wherein he barely got any playing minutes with Coca-Cola. When he transferred to Sta. Lucia, he finally blossomed into the exciting player that he was in the UAAP. Yeo was instrumental in the Realtors’ All-Filipino title run last year.
Florendo Ritualo Jr (1997-2001) – Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Having his jersey retired by La Salle is a testament to his outstanding contributions to the Archers. Gifted with superb outside shooting skills, he was instrumental in leading La Salle to 4 consecutive championships. Now entering his 7th year in the PBA, Ren Ren has yet to fully duplicate his success in the amateurs. With the additional firepower Talk N Text has acquired in the offseason, a first PBA championship may soon come for the Rain Man.
Mark Reynan Cardona (2001-2004) – Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Mac took the entire UAAP by storm with his unorthodox offensive moves and overall scrappiness. Captain Hook kept opponents constantly baffled on how he could be stopped. Just when many though that his playing style would not work in the pros, the scoring machine is averaging close to 20 points a game and was named Best Player of the Conference in 2007.
Don Carlos Allado (1996-1999) – Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Also a two-time UAAP MVP, his entry to the pros was controversial. He was drafted by Alaska in January 1999 but he did not play immediately for them, opting to play one more season for the Archers in July. In between he led his PBL squad to a championship before leading La Salle to a rare back-to-back crown. With Allado, Alaska made it to the finals of the 3rd conference but fell short of winning it all. Allado could have made history by winning a championship in 3 different leagues in the same year. Now playing for the Texters, he is still one of the more dependable power forwards in the league.
Other La Sallians playing in the PBA
Sunday Salvacion (College of St Benilde) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
Jondan Salvador (College of St Benilde) – Purefoods TJ Giants
Paul Artadi (La Salle Greenhills) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
Macky Escalona (La Salle Greenhills Elementary) – Brgy Ginebra Kings
photos courtesy of greenarcher.net, ubelt.com, pbase.com/basketballed (Telan photo)