Over the past 30 of Philippine basketball, I don’t think the caliber of players has improved overall in terms of the level which they should be in now. True, individually they have improved, but again, if you compare the level where the players were in the 70’s compared to where it should be now, the caliber of the players have STAGNATED, or worst, even REGRESSED.
Let’s consider the following observations:
First observation: Way back in the mid 70’s, the best Off Guards or Small Forwards in the league were guys like Jaworski, Co, Hubalde and Adornado. All of these guys were either 6’0 or taller.
Second observation: In those days, if you were anywhere near 6 feet, you could already play Center or Power Forward in any major basketball league in the country.
And yet, Jawo and company did not end up playing the Front Court, but the Back Court. They were VERY tall Guard-Forwards for their time.
Fast Forward to 2003. You look around the best backcourt guys in the PBA, and who are these people? Abbarientos? Mendoza? Miller? These guys are all under 6 feet.
If the level of basketball in 2003 was the same as in the mid 70’s, we’d have 6’5″ Guards right now for our best backcourt people. And yet, this is obviously NOT happening.
Now, you have to ask yourself, why would tall guys like Jawo and company insists on playing on the backcourt during their time when it would’ve been easier for them to play in the front court? The easiest thing to do, of course, would be to ask them outright.
But, the way I see it, the main reason why they did it, is simple: During their time, Jawo and company’s standards have always been the international scene. Our best players then (at least, before the PBA) get to play almost every year in internationational competitions, and for them to believe that they are the best, then they have to live up to the level of play in international competitions.
Nowadays, our players do not get to have the same motivation or drive. The main standard they get to measure themselves up to is the PBA, not the international competitions. That is why we end up with flashy, athletic but short players compared to international standards.
True, they get to play in the Asian games, but 4 years is such a long, long, long time for that drive to excel in internation competitions to sink in. There’s no “continuity”, the gaps between the games is just too long. I myself am hard pressed to remember any of the members during the last 2 Asian Games “PBA Dream (ahem, ubo) Teams”.
There is no connection, or drive for them to get better. Their main dream is to be in the Primadonna Basketball Association, and once there, they don’t aspire for more. It’s a lack of ambition, to be known, feared and respected not just in the PBA, but internationally as basketball players.
They get so comfy with all that money and glamour, they end up as athletes we can’t necessarily be proud of even in Asia.