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10 PBA Stalwarts Who Were Both College And Pro MVPs
These local ballers have maintained a standard of excellence throughout their careers
by Jay P. Mercado | Jul 10, 2018
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Successful collegiate players are considered major blue chippers when they apply in the PBA draft. Some of them have become virtual "messiahs" of their respective pro teams, owing to their ability to carry the load even on their rookie year.

This holds especially true with college Most Valuable Player winners. The likelihood of these players getting selected ahead of everyone else is high based on their outstanding extracurricular accomplishments. While there's no guarantee that a successful run in college can be replicated in the pro ranks, their chances are better.

Here, FHM lists down ten players who were successful in both their UAAP/NCAA and PBA careers, with at least a couple of MVP trophies to show for.

Robert Jaworski, Sr. (1966 UAAP, 1978 PBA)

Just exactly how good was the "Big J" when he was still young? He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 and was already the best collegiate player two years later, powering the University of the East Red Warriors to the championship in 1966. Jaworski was a member of the national team and would've been part of the last PH contingent in the 1972 Munich Olympics had he not been suspended by the BAP in 1971.

On his MVP year in the PBA (1978), he came up with perhaps the greatest performance ever by a local for one season, averaging 20 points, 10.2 rebound, 8.2 assists and 1.8 steals, while quarterbacking the Toyota Tamaraws to two of three titles that year.

Freddie Hubalde (1973 NCAA, 1977 PBA)

Hubalde has always been an under-the-radar type of player, displaying his wares without much fanfare. He doesn't even have a moniker, despite being the 1973 NCAA MVP as a member of the Mapua Cardinals, and winning the PBA version of same plum in 1977, when he took over injured Bogs Adornado's small forward spot. Known for his elegance, grace, and ability to knock down the bank shot with ease, Hubalde's twin success in the collegiate and pro ranks make him one of the most decorated players in local basketball history despite his low-key persona.

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Atoy Co (1971 NCAA, 1979 PBA)

The Mapua Cardinals knew the "Fortune Cookie" was already special when he was still in his teens. Blessed with a deadly shooting left hand and a level of athleticism that is inimitable, Co became a hot target among commercial teams in the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association, especially after being named 1971 NCAA MVP.

He signed with the Crispa Redmanizers and had a stellar PBA career, bagging the 1979 MVP award in a close battle against Ramon Fernandez, and was a nine-time member of the First Mythical team.

Philip Cezar (1972 NCAA, 1980 PBA)

Trivia: "The Scholar" captured his collegiate and pro-Most Valuable Player plums the year after his best buddy, Co, won his. Cezar donned the Jose Rizal University jersey, leading the talent-laden Heavy Bombers to the title as the tournament's best player. In 1980, when the PBA decided to hand over the MVP trophy at the end of the season for the first time (instead of the previous first conference awards), Cezar, who is regarded as one of the greatest power forwards to ever play in the league, was on top of his game among local players the whole year with a dominant performance. He carried the Redmanizers to the 1980 All-Filipino championship with a near immaculate 20-1 record, losing only in Game 3 of the Finals to the Toyota Tamaraws.

Allan Caidic (1982 UAAP, 1984 UAAP, 1985 UAAP, 1990 PBA)

The Triggerman's spectacular career took off when he became UAAP MVP in 1982, leading the Red Warriors to the Promised Land against the UP Fighting Maroons. Caidic went on to earn both trophies again in 1984 and 1985, before focusing on a successful run with the Philippine representatives.

When he turned pro in 1987, then-Great Taste Coffee Makers coach Baby Dalupan had to get creative to snatch the top pick in the draft, giving up a couple of superstars to earn that right. It was with Great Taste where Caidic won MVP in 1990, while also guiding the first PBA-reinforced national team to the silver medal in the Beijing Asian Games. He also donned the flag's colors in the 1994 Hiroshima and 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.

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Alvin Patrimonio (1985 NCAA, 1986 NCAA, 1991 PBA, 1993 PBA, 1994 PBA, 1997 PBA)

One of the the greatest players in Purefoods franchise history, the "Captain" was already a much-heralded amateur cager when he was still Mapua's "King Cardinal" in the mid-'80s and back-to-back NCAA MVP in 1985 and 1986. He was part of the "Golden Bronze" team that suited up in the 1986 Seoul Asiad and continued serving the country in the succeeding three Asian Games alongside Caidic. In the PBA, he is tied with June Mar Fajardo and Ramon Fernandez for most MVP awards with four, a testament to the dominance that he carried from the collegiate to the pro ranks.

Johnny Abarrientos (1991 UAAP, 1996 PBA)

The last homegrown player to be considered for a slot in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets, "The Flying A" is one of, if not the greatest local point guard of all time. He was a stalwart for the FEU Tamaraws, being named the 1991 MVP and steering his team to a successful title defense in 1991 and 1992.

Abarrientos was drafted third overall by the Alaska Aces the year after and immediately brought success to the franchise, capping it with a rare Grand Slam in 1996. He also suited up for the RP team three times as floor general: the gold medal-winning 1991 Southeast Asian Games team, the 1994 and 1998 RP teams in the Asian Games.

James Yap (2003 UAAP, 2006 PBA, 2010 PBA)

Yap took over Patrimonio's role as the face of the franchise when he was selected second overall in the 2004 draft. His career blossomed when he was adjudged the 2003 UAAP MVP, putting the Red Warriors on his back for a Final Four finish. Already a popular player in the amateur ranks, he reached superstardom while with Purefoods, as evidenced by two MVP awards (2006, 2010) and a stint with the 2009 RP team that played in Tianjin, China. "Big Game James" remains as relevant as ever today even after being traded to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in 2016 for another UE star, Paul Lee.

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Arwind Santos (2004 UAAP, 2005 UAAP, 2013 PBA)

Even on his first year in the UAAP, Santos was already primed for the big time, securing 2002 ROY honors. The season after, he led the Tamaraws to the championship, demolishing the Ateneo Blue Eagles, and was subsequently named Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP. FEU sustained its winning ways, successfully defending the title twice with Santos emerging as MVP in both seasons.

One of the most complete two-way players to ever wear a PBA uniform, Santos was drafted second overall by the Air21 Express in 2006 and became a many-time member of the league's All-Defensive Team, before finally landing the 2013 MVP award for the San Miguel Beermen. Santos remains a vital player in San Miguel's domination and is expected to hang up his jersey with the franchise.

June Mar Fajardo (2009 CESAFI, 2010 CESAFI, 2011 CESAFI, 2014 PBA, 2015 PBA, 2016 PBA, 2017 PBA)

Fajardo was still a raw big man with the University of Cebu Webmasters in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI). Despite that, he was already destroying the league, winning MVP for three-straight years and back-to-back championships (2010, 2011), while being named the 2010 National Collegiate Player of the Year. It didn't take long for the Beermen to take interest at the Kraken, acquiring his services in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2011 and 2012, before taking him first overall in the 2012 PBA draft. Fajardo brought his world-beating ways in the pros, copping four successive MVP plums from 2014 to 2017 and is on his way to an unprecedented fifth this year. Only time will tell if Fajardo ends up as the GOAT in PBA history.

 

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