Top PBA stars from each UAAP school

Ariel Ian Clarito
Each UAAP school has contributed its share of players who established themselves as PBA all-time greats

BIG J. It would be foolhardy not to bestow the honor of the top PBA player from UE to Robert Jaworski. Photo from 1995 PBA Annual

MANILA, Philippines – Numerous collegiate stars have carried over their success to the professional ranks. Each UAAP school has contributed its share of players who established themselves as PBA all-time greats.

We take a look at each UAAP school’s product who had the most success in the PBA, based on a combination of individual statistics and accolades, championships won, and impact on the league. 

UE Red Warriors

UE has produced MVPs in James Yap and Allan Caidic. Former Red Warriors Jerry Codiñera, Bong Ravena, and Paul Lee all had outstanding runs in the PBA. But it would be foolhardy not to bestow the honor of the top PBA player from UE to none other than the man almost synonymous to the PBA – Robert Jaworski. 

“The Big J” won the 1978 MVP when he averaged 20 points, 12 assists, and almost 9 boards a game. He was the prototype of the rebounding guard as evidenced by him being the first point guard to collar 1,000 offensive boards and 2,000 defensive boards. He was part of the great Toyota team which won 9 PBA titles. As a playing coach, he led Ginebra/Añejo to 4 championships. He was also named the head coach of the first all-pro national team to the 1990 Asian Games.

NU Bulldogs

When you think of an NU Bulldog who became a bonafide PBA star, there is none bigger than Danny Ildefonso. He joined the league in 1998 and immediately helped the San Miguel Beermen reestablish themselves as a contender. He would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award.

“The Demolition Man” is 1 of only 4 players to win back-to-back MVP honors. He was named Best Player of the Conference (BPC) in 5 straight conferences from 2000 to 2001. He won his first MVP award in just his third season after leading the Beermen to the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governor’s Cup championships in 2000. He then swept the BPC the following season and served as the anchor of the Beermen’s All-Filipino title romp.

Adamson Soaring Falcons

Hector Calma brought Adamson its only UAAP title in 1977. “The Director” orchestrated the San Miguel Grand Slam in 1989 and was widely regarded as one of the best point guards in the league in the late 80s. But as good a PBA career as Calma had, he is only second best when we talk about Adamson products who became PBA stars. 

The top honor will have to go to Kenneth Duremdes. Captain Marbel’s best years as a pro were spent with Alaska. He was crowned PBA MVP in 1998, the same year Alaska won the All-Filipino and Commissioner’s Cup championships, winning Finals MVP in those title runs. Duremdes ended his career with 6 titles, 2 BPC awards, 2 Mythical First Team selections, and 3 Mythical Second Team selections.

FEU Tamaraws

The UAAP’s winningest team has certainly contributed a long list of outstanding players like Marte Saldaña, Vic Pablo, and Terrence Romeo. PBA MVP Arwind Santos continues to stake his claim as the Tamaraw with the best PBA career, if only there was not another player from Morayta who stood 9 inches shorter than him but had as much individual achievements and more championships. 

Johnny Abarrientos redefined the point guard position in the PBA by showing a combination of dizzying speed, guile, defensive process, and the ability to control a game. Abarrientos helped lead Alaska to a rare Grand Slam in 1996, the year he also won MVP. Abarrientos made the All-Defensive Team 5 times in his career.

UP Fighting Maroons

The only man in league history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year, Benjie Paras simply is the best PBA player to come out of UP. 

Ten years after being named MVP, Paras showed a more mature game aided by a reliable set shot from the perimeter which made him even more difficult to defend as his strength down low remained the same even with the influx of bigger and younger Filipino-American players. He bagged his second MVP award in 1999 to cement his legacy as one of the best centers to ever play in the PBA. Paras would end his career with 4 titles and 5 Mythical First Team selections.

Ateneo Blue Eagles

The younger generation would probably consider Jojo Lastimosa, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Olsen Racela, or LA Tenorio when asked which Blue Eagle had the most impressive PBA career. There has never been an Atenean who won a PBA MVP award, but there was won who came very close. That man is Francis Arnaiz, who in 1975 was named by the media as the Basketball Player of the Year even if the PBA MVP award went to Bogs Adornado.

Arnaiz teamed up with Jaworski to form one of the best backcourt tandems in league history. Arnaiz became known as Mr Clutch, a moniker he best displayed with his deadly quick release jumpers and looping layups. The three-time Mythical First Team member became the second player in PBA history to score 5,000 points in 1979, the year before Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez reached the same milestone.

UST Glowing Goldies/Growling Tigers

Dennis Espino, Danny Florencio, Pido Jarencio, and Rey Evangelista are just some of the notable players to come out of UST. But there is one undisputed name from UST who had the greatest PBA career – William “Bogs” Adornado. 

Adornado won MVP thrice in his career, the first two coming in the first two seasons of the PBA. He scored 32 points in his first PBA game and reached the 2,000 points mark a little over a year later. He onced scored 64 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a game in 1980. Adornado led the league in scoring 5 times and became the third player to score 10,000 points. 

La Salle Green Archers

It is tough to choose between two great King Archers: Lim Eng Beng and Jun Limpot. Limpot was a former Rookie of the Year and a two-time member of the Second Mythical Team. Lim, meanwhile, made the Mythical First Team once and won more titles than Limpot, who won only one championship. Lim won two crowns for U-Tex, a remarkable feat in an era dominated by Crispa and Toyota. On that merit, we will have to go with Lim, with Limpot as a close second.

Lim was known as a deadly offensive threat who could score from anywhere. He was the 10th player in history to score 5,000 points, hitting that milestone in 1982. The broad-shouldered Lim had a mid-range jumper that was described by former Manila Beer assistant coach Nemie Villegas as “as accurate as a dunk.” –

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