The epic hard court battles in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have begun with the opening of its 93rd season last July 8, which was aired on S+A, S+A HD, and sports.abs-cbn.com.
As we all witness the journey of new and rising superstars in the country’s oldest collegiate league, let us take a look at the former players in each NCAA school whose legacies they will be chasing.
Here are 10 former players from San Beda Red Lions, host school San Sebastian Stags, AU Chiefs, CSB Blazers, EAC Generals, JRU Heavy Bombers, Mapua Cardinals, Letran Knights, LPU Pirates, and Perpetual Altas that are #GOALS for this generation of NCAA student-athletes.
1.) Caloy Loyzaga, San Beda College
While the world’s greatest basketball player ever is always subject to a debate, many will agree on who is the best Filipino ever to have played the game.
The late great Bedan Caloy Loyzaga, known as the “Big Difference,” remains the standard for Pinoy ballers after gaining both local and international fame for his basketball talent. Caloy led the San Beda team that won the coveted Zamora Cup, which was given to teams that won three championships.
The two-time Olympian’s finest performance, however, was in the 1954 FIBA World Basketball Championships, where he carried the country on his back to win the Bronze medal, a feat no other Asian team has done in the said tournament up to this day.
2.) Calvin Abueva, San Sebastian College-Recoletos
When Calvin Abueva suited up for the Stags during the senior year of then-Stags star Jimbo Aquino in ‘09, people thought the undersized forward will have a tough time against the towering frontline of Kyle and Jake Pascual, and Sudan Daniels of San Beda. But the fearless kid from Pampanga left people’s mouths gaping as he managed to grab rebound after rebound against them with his generously listed 6’3” frame.
That moment, “The Beast” was born. Calvin would soon show his all-around game by being the only player in the country to lead a league in points, rebounds, and assists.
His incredible versatility and intensity on the court remains a difference-maker to this day as he plays in the pro league and the national team.
3.) Alvin Patrimonio, Mapua Institute of Technology
Mapua was not prepared for a young guy like Alvin, a bull-strong center who stood only at 6’3” and was able to play at least two more positions. What set the Captain apart from his peers was his elite footwork, which reminded people of NBA legend Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.
Aside from that, Patrimonio bullied people bigger than him in the post and had a mean turnaround jumper that fell softly into the net. “Cap” got himself two NCAA MVPs in ’85 and ’86 and eventually became a four-time MVP in the pro league as a power forward, where imports would be assigned to stop him.
He was also a member of the country’s own version of the “Dream Team” as an amateur and the “Centennial Team” together with other Pinoy basketball greats.
4.) Samboy Lim, Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Samboy is fondly called the “Skywalker” in local hoops circles. Old men will regale young basketball fans of the times when Samboy would fly towards the hoop and no one could stop him, not even a center who is taller and stronger than he is.
The former San Beda Red Cub showcased his tremendous hops when he starred for Letran, where he turned every game into a highlight show with his acrobatic forays that most often than not, got punctuated by thundering jams to the delight of the crowd.
Samboy led the Knights to three of their 17 titles in the league before dazzling the pro league and representing the nation as a member of the 1985 national team.
5.) Earl Scottie Thompson, University of Perpetual Help System-DALTA
Scottie was a nameless recruit from down South when he was spotted by college coach extraordinaire Aric Del Rosario at the Palarong Pambansa.
He proved to be a diamond in the rough as he easily burst into the NCAA scene with his ability to snag triple-double after triple-double, getting double digits in points, assists, and rebounds in a single game, a mean feat for any basketball player.
The former Perpetual star and league MVP can also play point guard, shooting guard, and even small forward when the situation calls for it, making him truly stand out among players in his generation.
6.) Jio Jalalon, Arellano University
Jio came out of obscurity during his sophomore year in Season 90 where he ended his campaign with a Mythical Five selection and a Most Improved Player award.
While Jalalon did not win any championships for the Chiefs, he won the hearts of basketball fans with his energy and leadership on the court, using his speed and strength to blow by opponents to score or to pass to an open teammate.
His talent and fire was most evident during NCAA Season 91, when he was the only local player to be included in the Mythical team, beating other elite collegiate point guards then like Baser Amer and Thompson to the spot.
7.) Vergel Meneses, Jose Rizal University
The former King Bomber and now JRU head coach took the NCAA by storm as one of the most exciting players during his time.
Known as a high-flyer, Vergel led his team alongside brother Vic in the collegiate ranks before becoming one of the greats in the pro league. While he did not win any championships as an NCAA player, he remains in the hunt for a title for JRU as the current mentor of the Heavy Bombers. Since taking charge of the team in 2014, he has led JRU to 3rd place twice, back in 2010 and 2014.
8.) Leo Austria, Lyceum of the Philippines University
Kids today will know him as a multi-titled coach but before taking this role, he first showed his leadership as the basketball star of Lyceum.
He went on to have a successful playing career in semi-pro and pro leagues before establishing himself as a coach in both collegiate and professional tournaments. Leo only proves that basketball never stops for a hardcore baller like him as he extends his career through coaching and winning championships.
Other notable alumni from LPU, which only joined the NCAA a few years ago, are Ato Agustin and Gary David.
9.) Sunday Salvacion, College of Saint Benilde
Sunday was the Blazers’ scoring machine who led the team to two Finals appearances, winning the school’s first and only NCAA senior men’s basketball championship in 2000.
The former league Rookie-of-the-Year was even named MVP in 2002, when they returned to the Finals but lost to the Stags, the team they beat for the title two years before. Sunday eventually made a name as a two-way player in the pro league, delivering in clutch situations through his shooting and solid defense.
He will always be credited for helping turn CSB into a contender immediately in the NCAA, which the school joined only in 1998.
10.) Ronjay Buenafe, Emilio Aguinaldo College
EAC is one of the youngest basketball teams in the NCAA and so far, former player Ronjay Buenafe stands out as its biggest contribution to Philippine basketball.
Ronjay, who wore the #8 jersey, led the Generals to two championships in its former league (UCAA). Though he was not a first round draft pick in the pro league, he easily earned a spot in the rotation of his team with his steady game, strengthened by a much-improved outside shooting.
Find out who are set to follow in their footsteps and bring pride to their schools while making their own names in Philippine basketball. Catch NCAA Season 93 live on S+A, S+A HD, and via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. For more news and features, visit sports.abs-cbn.com or follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook.