PBA legend Alvin Patrimonio on the state of Philippine basketball
MANILA, Philippines – Alvin Patrimonio knows a thing or two about Philippine basketball.
The man who was – and still is – popularly known as “Cap” had one of the more decorated playing careers from the time he was a dominant center for the Mapua Cardinals in the NCAA up to when he was smashing records for Purefoods in the PBA. In between, he also played for the flag in international competition, making die-hard, basketball-loving fans in the country proud to be represented by the 6-foot-3 Pinoy out of Quezon City.
Today, Patrimonio remains active as part of the Magnolia Hotshots franchise. Now 51 years of age, he’s seen how much development the PBA has gone through – both good and bad – since entering the league in 1988.
The latest of such was the promotion of former league media bureau Willie Marcial to PBA Commissioner- an event that took place after turmoil between teams challenged the fortitude of the 43-year-old association and threatened a stand-off.
“He’s very fit to be the next commissioner, because of his long stay in the PBA,” Patrimonio said in a sit-down with Rappler following a press conference for MAXiM, a business that does hair restoration which he participated in.
“He’s been there since the 80s, so a lot of commissioners, he was there. I’m sure nakuha niya yung mga (he learned the) positives, negatives of the past commissioners. So he just has to apply it now that he’s the commissioner.”
Marcial took over from Chito Narvasa, whose tenure as commissioner was consistently a topic of controversy due to questionable decision-making. One of Narvasa’s policies was to have referees be more tight with their calls of fouls, which countered the tradition of physical play in the PBA.
“Before, yung physicality, matatawagan kaagad nang foul. But now you can see bumabalik na yung physicality of the game, and nakakatulong yun sa fans. They love that, the banging bodies. May konting tulakan and konting, sometimes, altercations. Kasama sa story yun. So, maganda. He’s on the right page being the new commissioner.”
(With the physicality before, fouls were called right away. But now, you can see the physical aspect is returning, and that helps with the fans. They love that, the banging bodies. There’s some pushing and, at times, altercations. That’s part of the story. So, it’s nice. He’s on the right page being the new commissioner.)
Patrimonio won a record 4 PBA MVP awards (tied with Ramon Fernandez and June Mar Fajardo), was named an All-Star 12 times, and was a 10-time Mythical First Team selection during his 16-year pro career. On top of all that, he also helped lead his team to 5 PBA championships, was an MVP in the NCAA twice, and suited up in 4 Asian Games tournaments.
When asked to compare the difference between his generation of players and today’s stars, Patrimonio had an interesting response.
“First, kasi, when we were still in the amateurs or in college, we were just getting a little amount of allowance from our schools. But, syempre (of course), yung (the) tuition was free that time. But (the) yung allowance, very konti lang (little only),” he said.
“Talagang nagpapakamatay lahat (Everyone really sacrificed) just to win for your school, win for the flag, and win for your commercial or your PBA team. More divings siguro (maybe) before. More physical. You have to find ways to win, kasi (because) balanced din yung (the) league. Every team talaga [was] balanced.”
A recent topic that has sparked controversy in Philippine basketball is the common practice of fielding foreign student-athletes by collegiate teams in the UAAP and NCAA. Although it was already something that took place before, the trend has become more prominent over the last decade, with complaints getting louder over the past two years as DLSU’s Ben Mbala won back-to-back MVP awards.
Some reason that roster spots given to foreigners without Filipino blood takes away opportunities from home-grown talents, while others argue it’s a good method to elevate and challenge the talents of locals.
“They were practicing that before na, the foreign students, but syempre (of course) my era, wala eh (there was none). Hindi na-encourage yung team (they weren’t encouraged) to have a foreign player, foreign athlete, so all-Filipino talaga dati before,’ Patrimonio remembered.
As for him, where does he stand?
“Every team has it na, kaya nakakalungkot kasi yung ibang Filipino students - full-grown talents natin - nawawala sa line-up.”
(Every team has it already, that’s why it’s sad because some Filipino students - full-grown talents of ours - are taken away from the line-up.)
On Thursday,February 22, the Philippine men’s national basketball team – Gilas Pilipinas – will take on Australia in the FIBA World Cup qualifier match. Leading up to the big contest, the usual issues arose: lack of practice time due to schedule conflicts, injuries, and miscommunication.
For Patrimonio, who played in the Asian Games 4 consecutive times from 1986-1998 (the tournament was every 4 years), getting past the obstacles along the way comes down to heart.
“One time, [in] 1990, we just had two weeks of practice, but we got silver. Siguro (I guess) it’s all heart and quick chemistry cause i co-combine lahat nang (all of the) superstars again. It’s really hard talaga, very crucial talaga if you want to win for flag. You have to give your best.
“We have PBA games, so talagang mag co-conflict sa mga exposures outside the country and the only solution is to get the players who will fight for flag and country talaga. Yung mag papakamatay (Those who are ready to die) and are ready to sacrifice and serve the country.”
Gilas’ roster is relatively young, especially with veteran Jayson Castro unable to play due to injury. New talents like Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas will have to mature quick, but the team still has naturalized player Andray Blatche to do most of the heavy lifting.
“We have a good naturalized player. We have a good coach. Good management. It’s all up to the players to really adjust talaga, and fight for flag and country. Talent-wise, okay naman sila (they’re good to go). Very complete yung line-up.” – Rappler.com