LOOKBACK: The should-have-been PBA MVPs
MANILA, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo has won it 6 times. Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio have 4 each, while Bogs Adornado has 3. There are 5 other players who have been awarded multiple times: Benjie Paras, Abet Guidaben, Danny Ildefonso, James Yap, and Willie Miller.
In the PBA, only 26 players have bagged the Most Valuable Player award. Winning it entails consistent outstanding performance game in and game out for an entire season.
But more than just garnering individual statistics, a player must also be able to help his team advance beyond the elimination round every conference to earn the player more games and more won-game bonus points.
There have been a number of outstanding players who have not had the good fortune of copping the league’s highest individual honor.
Some missed out because of certain quirks in league rules or because they played for not so strong teams. There were those who simply could not connect with the media or their fellow players and failed to get enough votes.
Let us take a look at some great players who should have, or could have, won the MVP award at least once in their respective careers.
Francis Arnaiz (1975-1986)
There is a reason Francis Arnaiz was named by the press as the Basketball Player of the Year in 1975.
A lot of people felt Arnaiz should have gotten the MVP award in the PBA’s maiden season. At a time when the winner was named after the first conference and not at the end of the season, Adornado eventually became the league’s first ever MVP.
But Arnaiz no doubt had a legitimate claim to the award. The Toyota Comets won the first two conferences and looked poised to win the Grand Slam. They lost the last conference crown to Crispa.
Arnaiz was the best player for Toyota that season. He might even have been the best player that season in the entire PBA.
Arnaiz, who became known as Mr Clutch for his ability to deliver under pressure, made the Mythical First Team that season.
The former Ateneo Blue Eagle made the Mythical First Five two more times in his career.
Danny Florencio (1975-1983)
Before Samboy Lim, there was already a skywalking offensive dynamo from the University of Santo Tomas who mesmerized PBA fans with his acrobatic shots.
Danny Florencio was one of the most gifted scorers in PBA history. He played his first two seasons with the U/Tex Wranglers, largely considered then the third-best team in the league.
In 1977, Florencio moved to the Seven Up Uncolas. He scored 32.3 points a game that season, still the highest scoring average for a local in league history. He also set that year the single game scoring record then when he erupted for 64 points in a loss to Toyota.
Florencio joined Toyota the following season. He won his second straight scoring title in 1978 when he averaged 23.4 points, showing he could still score in bunches even when playing for a powerhouse team.
He was also a key offensive piece when the Tamaraws won two titles that year, the All Filipino and the Invitational Championships.
Jerry Codiñera (1988-2005)
Jerry Codiñera was a terror on both ends of the floor. He was tireless off the offensive glass and had one of the deadliest 18-foot jumpers for a big man.
Known as the Defense Minister, Codiñera made the Mythical First Team 3 times and the Mythical Second Team 5 times. He was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
Codiñera made the All Defensive Team in 9 seasons. He also won the Sportsmanship Award two times and was an 11-time All-Star.
In the 1993 MVP race, the former UE Red Warrior received the most number of votes from his fellow players. However, his Purefoods teammate Patrimonio had the higher votes from media.
It was the closest MVP voting in league history. The media votes ultimately swung the voting to Patrimonio’s favor.
Codiñera is the PBA’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds, a testament to his tenacity that has made him one the best big men of all time.
Jojo Lastimosa (1988-2002)
If Arnaiz was Mr Clutch, then his fellow Atenean Jojo Lastimosa was the 4th Quarter Man of the 1990s.
Lastimosa edged out his teammate Codiñera for the Rookie of the Year honors in 1988. He also made the Mythical Second Team that season.
As one of the league’s most dynamic scorers, Lastimosa averaged over 16 points in his 3 years with Purefoods. He had the ability to shoot from long range and finish strong with his fearless penetrations.
When Lastimosa joined Alaska in 1991, he came into his own and blossomed to become one of the best players in the league. He averaged 22.5 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds a game as he led Alaska to the 3rd conference title.
Alaska had the best record among all teams for the entire year, but Lastimosa lost to Patrimonio in the MVP race.
Lastimosa, who made the Mythical First Team thrice, won 10 championships in his 15-year career.
Nelson Asaytono (1989 - 2006)
The Bull is a three-time member of the Mythical First Team and also a three-time Mythical Second Team selection. He averaged in double figures in his first 3 years in the PBA despite playing mostly as a backup to Patrimonio and Codiñera.
Asaytono exploded in 1992 when he was made the franchise player of Swift. He normed 22.4 points and 8.2 boards a game. The following season, he finished third in the MVP race.
A product of the University of Manila, Asaytono was a a bullstrong big who could shoot from outside, drive strong and finish with a slam, or post up his defender.
His full offensive repertoire was unleashed by coach Ron Jacobs when Asaytono became the main man of San Miguel. He averaged a career-best 23.1 points in 1997, but lost in the MVP voting to Patrimonio.
Asaytono, too, is hands down the biggest omission in the PBA’s Top 40 Greatest Players of All Time list.
Danny Seigle (1999-2017)
There was no one quite like Danny Seigle in his early years in the PBA. A versatile 6-foot-6 scorer even from his collegiate years with the Wagner Seahawks in the US NCAA, Seigle was a Mythical First Team selection in his first 3 years in the PBA. He holds the record for most consecutive games (19) with at least 20 points.
Seigle was the Rookie of the Year in 1999 when he nearly won the MVP. The next two years, he led the Beermen in scoring. He also grabbed 6 boards a game.
The Beermen won 3 titles in those two years with Seigle being named the Finals MVP twice. He lost in the MVP voting twice to teammate Ildefonso.
After suffering a major injury in 2002, Seigle would come back stronger, particularly in the years 2005 to 2007. He averaged over 20 points and almost 8 rebounds in those two seasons. – Rappler.com