The phenomenal performance of Scottie Thompson in the recent 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals has sparked a discussion about where the prized Barangay Ginebra San Miguel guard should be ranked among the all-time greats. The 6'1", do-it-all backcourt player averaged an impressive 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the six games against the mighty San Miguel Beermen.
But it was in the crucial games 5 and 6 where Thompson exemplified the "never-say-die" Ginebra spirit. In game 5, he scored his team's six of the last seven points in the final two minutes to lift the Barangay to a come-from-behind win against the Beermen. Down three, 83-80, Thompson made two clutch free throws, a bank shot from eight feet off a Justin Brownlee feed, and an unmolested transition lay-up, to put Ginebra firmly ahead, 86-83, until LA Tenorio sealed the game with a free throw in the last few seconds. In the last two games, Thompson averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists to cop Finals MVP honors for the first time in only his third year as a pro.
Here, FHM ranks the Top 5 rebounding guards in league history to see if Thompson has already cracked the list.
The shortest player in this list, Abarrientos was in a class of his own—his potential was noticed as early as 1993 by Alaska coach Tim Cone, who drafted the former FEU sentinel as the No. 3 pick. Cone, who isn't known for giving a lot of minutes to rookies, made an exception with the Flying A, one of the best guards ever to play in the PBA. Apart from his sterling numbers, including a couple of games where he registered a triple-double, he was also instrumental in giving the Aces its first franchise Grand Slam in 1996, the same year he won MVP honors. Career-wise, Abarrientos averaged 4.1 rebounds, a testament to the hustle of this 5'8" dynamo.
Another Cone draftee, Cariaso was picked sixth overall in 1995, after Alaska traded Bong Solomon to Ginebra for the latter's first round selection. The former Sonoma State reliable quickly established his presence as one of the best defensive guards in league history, while also possessing incredible basketball smarts. He helped the Aces win the Slam in 1996 after Cone entrusted him with the starting small forward position. Cariaso played like a veteran and had a remarkable 16-year career, suiting up for four different teams. In the end, the Jet averaged 4.5 rebounds, establishing him as one of the finest "complete" guards ever to play in the PBA.
Miller was already a superstar even during his days with Letran in the NCAA, wowing the crowd with his incredible ball-handling skills and God-given talents. It wasn't difficult for then Red Bull Coach Yeng Guiao to pluck him out of the 2001 class, ahead of then, unknowns Mark Caguioa, John Arigo, and big man Mike Hrabak. In only his second year, Miller won MVP honors after helping the Batang Thunder defending the Commissioner's Cup title, his second championship. He won another MVP plum in 2007. What set Miller apart was his ability to collar the defensive boards and jumpstart the fast break, going coast-to-coast. When Miller finished his 15-year PBA career with the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters in 2015, he averaged 4.6 rebounds.
Thompson's eye-popping numbers are so impressive that it makes you wonder where all that energy is coming from. Another one of those few rookies
Robert Jaworski, Sr.
This probably didn't come as a surprise. This is undisputed—not only is Jaworski the PBA's greatest passer ever, he's also the best rebounding guard of all-time. From 1975 to 1977, he averaged 6.9 rebounds, which Thompson has surpassed at this time. But on his fourth season in 1978, Jaworski came up with perhaps the greatest performance ever for a season among all PBA players with an incredible 20 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 8.6 assists, a near triple-double average. To date, Jaworski is the only guard to have averaged double-digit rebounds in a single season. In his remarkable 23-year PBA career, he normed 5.6 boards, which remains impressive considering the fewer minutes logged after the 1991 season.