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The Highs (And Lows) Of The PBA's Milestone 40th Season

The dominating performances, surprises, and epic fails that spiced up the season that was.
by Raul Maningat | Jul 23, 2015
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The 40th PBA Season has just come to a close with the San Miguel Beermen reigning supreme as the Governors' Cup champions. No surprise there. What’s surprising though was the manner in which they did it–sweeping a formidable Alaska Aces squad, four-zip.

It was a fitting end to a basketball year filled with laudable performances and surprises that got us high-fiving, laughing, screaming, and cursing. To encapsulate the terrific PBA season that seemed to just fly by, we collected some of its most memorable moments–from the best to the downright ridiculous.

Read on, local hoops fans!


Jimmy Alapag Retires

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The 5'7' Talk 'N Text point guard has given us countless memories to cherish. From his clutch plays in the PBA to his marvelous performances as the Gilas captain, his brilliance had us in awe. That’s why when he officially announced his retirement, every single Pinoy hoops fan became his well-wisher. During the halftime break of the PBA All-Star Game back in March, a tribute to the league's Mighty Mouse took place wherein a teary-eyed Alapag bid farewell to his millions of supporters.

Salamat, Kap Jimmy!

June Mar’s Domination Continues

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June Mar Fajardo has been winning so many trophies; his house is now a museum. This season, the monolithic Cebuano slot man had another massive reaping of accolades. He won a couple of Best Player of the Conference awards, particularly for his Philippine Cup and the Governors’ Cup stints. He was named the league MVP for the second straight year. The cherry on top was the Finals MVP plum in the third conference’s championship. Bwakaw pala si June Mar, bwakaw sa trophy, that is.

He finished this season with big boy averages of 17.4 ppg and 12.9 rpg while making a sick 58.9-percent of his shots from the field. At this rate, Fajardo could very well go down in history as the most unstoppable force in the PBA.

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San Miguel-Alaska Rivalry

The Aces and the Beermen were the two best teams this season. They met twice in the finals with SMB winning both times. The first affair was at the Philippine Cup championship wherein Calvin Abueva’s beastly effort pushed Arwind Santos and his crew to the brink of defeat. But the former King Tamarraw embraced the pressure and drained the title-clinching triple late in the seventh and deciding game.

Video via ayaw kona

Two conferences later, the two mighty squads met again in the Governors’ Cup finale and many expected Alaska to avenge their heartbreaking loss. However, SMB had other ideas. The unsuspecting public was stunned as the Beermen torched Coach Alex Compton’s wards with their Golden State Warriors-ish three-point shooting while relying on import AZ Reid and June Mar to hold the fort inside. The result was a rare PBA sweep in favor of San Miguel.

Jayson Castro Squeaking In To Win One

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SMB won two out of three conferences this season. The one that got away was the Commissioners' Cup as the Beermen unceremoniously bowed out of the tourney, failing to even reach the quarterfinals. The team that stepped up and won it all was the Tropang Texters led by Castro. The Blur was on top form as he carried his outfit past the daunting challenges presented by the Purefoods Star Hotshots and the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters en route to Talk N’ Text’s eight title in franchise history.

With averages of 20.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.1, Castro earned his third Best Player of the Conference hardware and an extension of his stature as the best point guard in Asia.

May ASIm Pa!

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Asi Taulava, NLEX’s ageless Roadwarrior, has become the Tim Duncan of the PBA. At 42 years old, the 6'9", 260-pound Taulava still has the capacity to score 16 points per game and haul in 9.27 boards a night. His game is still so tight that people have been making a case for him to play for Gilas in the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship. Don’t be greedy, Asi, tell us where the fountain of youth is.

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Terrence Romeo Emerges

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If there’s a player who can take the mantle from the aging James Yap, it’s got to be Romeo. This season, the streakiest shooter in the PBA proved that he’s for real as he led the league in scoring among locals. His 19.66 ppg is even more impressive if you consider the ways he gets the ball through the hoop. He does it in a variety of creative playground moves: off-the-dribble, crossover, step back, with-a-hand-in-his-face, it doesn’t matter. Every time he hoists the rock, it has a chance to go in. Terrence has arrived, people!

Kia’s Surprise

Coming into the league, Kia was considered more of a sideshow rather than a legit ball club. But in the Commissioners' Cup, Pacman’s boys started playing inspired basketball behind their towering import PJ Ramos. In the Governor's Cup, they had five wins and could've gone into the quarterfinals if not for the so-called quotient system which every math hater loathes.

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The confidence they gained in the past two conferences transformed them from being the butt of PBA jokes into one of the grittier, more entertaining squads in the league. Led by the feisty L.A. Revilla, Kia has developed an identity that resembles Pacquiao’s determination in the ring. And guess what? They did it all when Manny was away from the floor, not meddling with the basketball or the coaching board.

The Asian Import Invasion

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The PBA made an innovation in the Governors’ Cup, allowing teams to have two imports, provided the other one is an Asian player standing below 6'3". Some frowned upon the new rule, thinking that the additional reinforcements might make playing time scarce for the locals. But the open-minded ones embraced the idea as they believe the extra competition will help elevate the play of our homegrown cagers.

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In the end, the Asian import invasion turned out to be a good look for the league. It was like KFC’s Double Down when it first came out: Initially we didn’t want to try it, but once we tasted it, we’re down with it. By the way, our Asian Import MVP is Syrian Michel Madanly (19.7 ppg) from NLEX. Boy, that dude can shoot!


James Yap And The Fall Of The Star Hotshots

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After completing a rare PBA Grand Slam in 2014, the Star Hotshots became instant favorites to win a couple more titles the following season. But Tim Cone’s boys never got their groove on. Their sudden decline prevented them from even having one finals appearance.

The Hotshot’s plummet was most evident in their franchise player James Yap. This year, the 11-year veteran finished with his lowest production ever with only 11 ppg to show for. Perhaps the 35-year-old gunner is not the best iso-player in the league anymore. Maybe he’s ready to pass the torch to...Terence Romeo?

Manny Pacquiao
’s PBA Debut

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Before the season began, the people of the Philippines feared that the Pambansang Kamao might take a whack at playing in the PBA. But all of us were helpless. Manny did suit up for a PBA squad and coached too, or at least he tried to.

Congressman Pacquiao is the manager/coach/most popular bench player of Team Kia (now known as Mahindra Enforcers). He’s known to be a multi-tasker but seeing him commendably carry out any of his several undertakings in the league has been as rare as a Bigfoot sighting. But, hey, he’s Manny Pacquiao, he’s in the PBA, and he did score a point in the league which is something 99-percent of us haven't done.

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This is not about him playing but, rather, about him fulfilling his role as an official PBA coach. We guess what we're getting at here is that we want to see more of the man in the venue (we're all fans, aren't we?) doing tactical stuff for his team, or at least inspiring them to play better. In the end though, we all just have to make peace with it, or else…

Daniel Orton’s Debacle

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After an embarrassing loss to Kia in the Commissioners' Cup prelims, Star Hotshots’ import Daniel Orton went on a wild rant and called Pacquiao a joke of a basketball player. It wasn’t a good idea.

The PBA slapped him with a P250,000 fine or 10 times of what players normally pay when they get into fights. And even worse for the import, Coach Cone and co. ultimately decided to replace him. The 275-pound center did have a slow start in the tourney but we all know it had little to do with him getting the pink slip. If there’s any silver lining in Daniel’s dismissal, it could be that he received a few props for having the actual balls to say what he did, bad or not.

Big Beau Says Suck It!

The most bizarre moment of the 2014-2015 PBA season came in a Commissioners' Cup game between Rain or Shine and Ginebra. The star of the show was none other than Coach Yeng Guiao’s number one enforcer Beau Belga. The hefty PCU alumnus taunted the Ginebra faithful with tons of "Suck It!" gestures and throat-slicing hand signals. He then proceeded to have a jiu-jitsu battle with Mark Caguioa before delivering an atomic knee drop to Emman Monfort’s face.

Video via Sports5

With Big Beau falling deeper into psychosis, a shouting match with Ginebra’s import, Michael Dunigan, soon followed. He finished his act off with a big emphatic "Suck It!" directed at the crowd before punching the air as if he did something triumphant. Belga really looked like he was going crazy.

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He paid P70,000 for his actions.

Ginebra’s Woes Continue

Ginebra’s troubles have gone from bad to worse. In three fruitless conferences, they’ve already had three different coaches. The latest guy to get the boot as the Gin Kings stuck to its One Coach, One Conference Policy is Frankie Lim.

With Jeffrey Cariaso, Ato Agustin, and Lim not having enough time to fully instill the system they wanted Ginebra to play under, it was impossible even for a stacked Barangay roster to become serious title contenders.

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In their state of disarray, not even super import Orlando Johnson, whose so-so game is a 35-point outing, was capable of saving Caguioa and friends. The legendary Cone is the new Gin Kings headmaster. Does that mean we’re going to see Tim Kang-Cone memes pretty soon? Seriously, let's see if the league's winningest coach can turn the fabled franchise's fate around.

Calvin Abueva’s Christmas Special

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