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Top 10 Game-Changing Fil-Foreigners To Set Foot On PBA Soil

Stalwart ballers who were born to a Filipino and a foreign parent
by Jay P. Mercado | Aug 9, 2017
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The influx of Fil-foreigners in the PBA started in 1980, when then-Ambassador Danding Cojuangco introduced the National Training Team program, which recruited Americans and half-Pinoys to don the national team colors. A second wave happened in the late '90s when rival basketball league Metropolitan Basketball Association posed a threat to the pioneer professional league in Asia. Now, it's not surprising to see Filipinos of mixed heritage suiting up for collegiate teams and the D-League for the opportunity of going pro.

Securing Fil-foreign players has become a familiar practice and a rich pipeline for basketball talent. That said, FHM lists down the Top 10 half-Pinoys to ever play in the PBA. To ensure clarity in the criteria, we only included players who were born to a Filipino and a foreign parent. Those born to two Filipino parents but were raised overseas (like Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Alex Cabagnot, Jimmy Alapag), and were not discovered abroad (Robert Jaworski, Sr., Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, Abe King) merit a different roundup.

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First, those bubbling under; the active players who may crack the list very soon: Stanley Pringle, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Joe Devance

Jay Washington

The top pick of the 2005 draft (traded the same day to the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals), J-Wash was touted as the second coming of Danny Seigle—a tall 6'7" forward with an array of offensive moves. He is a two-time Best Player of the Conference awardee and a three-time Mythical First Team member while playing for the Petron Blaze Boosters. Now with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, Washington's versatility and skill continue to puzzle opponents especially when motivated.

Rudy Hatfield

No one took exceptional notice of Rudy Hatfield when he joined the league in 1999 as a direct hire of the Tanduay Rhum Masters. His hardwork and dedication finally paid off when he became one of the vital cogs for the Coca-Cola Tigers' 2002 All-Filipino Cup title. In the following year, Hatfield was named Defensive Player of the Year and finished second in the Most Valuable Player race, behind Asi Taulava—a testament that blue-collar effort is truly appreciated.

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Gabe Norwood

When Chot Reyes added 23-year-old Norwood to the national team in 2007 for the FIBA tournament, expectations soared, especially since the George Mason University alum was coming off a stint in the US NCAA Final Four. From then on, he has become a consistent member of the All-Defensive Team and was even hailed as the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year. Against China later, Norwood will only be the third player in history—after Ed Ocampo and Big Boy Reynoso—to represent the country at least five times in the FIBA Asia Cup.

Sonny Thoss

Before Christian Standhardinger, a Fil-German was the tallest in his rookie class (2004) at 6'7". It wasn't a hard decision for Tim Cone and the Alaska Aces to pick him fifth overall owing to his potential. In a short period of time, he proved the organization right, powering them to three championships as the lead center, as well as winning the Finals MVP award in 2013 at the age of 32. Thoss wasn't as celebrated as the other bigs in the league, preferring to get the job done quietly and efficiently.

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Ali Peek

Once described by Taulava as perhaps the strongest player in the PBA, the lefty Man Mountain power plays usually end with a soft touch. This gentle giant is capable of bulldozing his way through the post, pivots well and fakes twice, before laying in for the easy deuce. A six-time champion with TNT under Coach Chot, and Best Player awardee of the 2003 Invitational conference as a member of the Aces, Peek is the epitome of power and finesse combined.

Kelly Williams

Arwind Santos was penciled to be the No. 1 pick of the 2006 rookie draft by the Sta. Lucia Realtors until an athletic forward emerged from the scene and changed their mind. It was hard not to notice Machine Gun Kelly—he was a thoroughbred, an untiring player with unlimited skills, and one of the best finishers in transition. One of the catalysts for Sta. Lucia's second title in 2007, Williams became the first MVP in franchise history the next year. His career averages remain impressive, despite playing limited minutes for TNT this past couple of seasons. A spate of injuries (a blood disorder) sidelined him for a while but he remains to be a key player for his team.

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Eric Menk

Even in the defunct PBL when he started playing locally, Menk was already a dominant, hardworking big man willing to do the dirty work of cleaning up boards and scoring off putbacks. He was perhaps one of the finest specimens for a true athlete. While Menk may not have the same skill set as Danny Seigle or the charisma of Asi Taulava, he made blue-collar work fashionable and relevant. He is one of the greatest power forwards in PBA history who eventually became the MVP for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in 2005.

Asi Taulava

For a long time, he was the best center in the country, bar none. Taulava may not have won several individual honors and was only a one-time PBA champion (with TNT in 2003), but there's no denying his impact to the game. His longevity is perhaps his greatest asset; at age 44, he is still part of the regular rotation for the NLEX Road Warriors. Neither is his love to play for flag and country—2002 Asian Games, the 2007, 2009, and 2015 (as a backup) FIBA-Asia Championships. The 2003 MVP will be remembered as one of the most dominant centers the league has ever seen.

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Ricardo Brown

Brown started it all—he was the star player from Pepperdine University taken in by Cojuangco and Jacobs to become part of the first National Training Team in 1980. He eventually joined the PBA in 1983, won Rookie of the Year honors, as well as a coveted spot in the Mythical First Team, the second rookie to do so after Arnie Tuadles in 1979. Two years later, Brown was named MVP without any doubt. A cold-blooded offensive weapon who played for Great Taste Coffee Makers and San Miguel Beerman, the Quick Brown Fox was one of the greatest clutch players in league history, and undeniably the most difficult local guard to defend during his time. It was unfortunate that Brown's career had to end early, retiring after the 1989 season, but not after holding the record for career averages in points and assists among locals (23.1 and 7.7, respectively). Had he played longer, he would not have given up the top spot to...

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Danny Seigle

Few players have the ability to revolutionize a position in basketball. Power forward Abe King was one, but no one made greater impact than Danny Seigle at small forward. At 6'7", Dynamite Danny made many Filipino fans believe he was the savior to the national team's bid to win the gold medal at the 2002 Busan Asian Games. A torn right Achilles tendon happened in an exhibition game versus Qatar weeks before the tournament and those dreams dissipated almost immediately. It's unfortunate that Seigle never had an MVP title, when he could've easily gotten one from 1999 to 2001. Still, as signs of his greatness, he has amassed four Finals MVP awards in eight championships, was a two-time Best Player of the Conference, and was the best among what arguably was the best rookie batch of all time.


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