Photos from PBA ImagesTHE LEGEND45
Weird start to their curtain calls can't dampen these retiring players illustrious careers
by Reynald Magallon, March 18, 2020 11:51pm
A number of players are ready to take their final vows on the PBA stage when the Philippine Cup started but it had to be stopped due to the COVID-19 - a rare and weird way to start the 45th season.
Seasoned veterans Sonny Thoss of the Alaska Aces, Asi Taulava and Cyrus Baguio of NLEX Road Warriors, Harvey Carey of TNT Katropa and PJ Simon of the Magnolia Hotshots all have announced that they'll be hanging their sneakers for good at the end of the All-Filipino Cup.
Their last conference may have started the weird way for them but that cannot take away the fact that these players had an illustrious career in the PBA and they will be leaving a huge imprint to the league, to the franchises they played for and to the basketball fans.
Let's look back at their colorful careers before they serve their curtain calls in the Philippine Cup.
Thoss had to wait for his turn during his first years in the league, playing back up to the likes of Ali Peek and EJ Feihl, but when he had his chance, he made sure to be the center the Aces franchise can lean on.
True enough, Alaska ended up banking on the 6'7" Fil-German which Thoss paid back by playing all of his 15 years in the league with the Aces, guiding them to three championships, the last one on which Thoss claimed his Finals MVP plum.
The 38-year old wasn't the dominating presence in the paint that can be compared to the prime Taulava or the June Mar Fajardo of the current era. But he has the finesse, the sweet shooting stroke from the perimeter and the footwork at the post to be effective for the Aces. He was a two-time first mythical team member and four-time second mythical team member and an 11-time All Star.
Baguio was one of the most explosive scorers of his generation. Aside from the thick headband he used to wear during his hey days, Baguio was best remembered as one of the best slashers in his era. The high flying 6'2" crowd was a lethal in transition and has variety of acrobatic shots and hang time moves to play with driving to the hole.
He has three championships under his belt and he's looking to bag his fourth in his final conference in the league under the coach who gave him the shot to be in the PBA way back 200, Coach Yeng Guiao. He took home his first with the Guiao-mentored Red Bull Barako before getting another break with the Aces years after to get their second and third
Aside from the titles, the 39-year old was a two time second mythical team member, a one-time Finals MVP and11-time All Star.
Harvey Carey didn't have that much of individual accolade in his resume but he has proven himself that he was born to win. In his 17 years in the league, he was a defensive player of the year, a second mythical team and a one time All-Star.
But what's shining bright in his resume was the seven titles under his belt. He was the perfect star role player that TNT franchise relied upon since the era of the Taulava-Alapag tandem to the super team TNT era with Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, Larry Fonacier and Ranidel de Ocampo to the age of Jayson Castro in the Katropa's lair.
Carey provided TNT the dirty work which rewarded him the biggest prize in the league.
Taulava's lone championship in his long illustrous career cannot define how dominant he was during his heyday. At a height of 6'9", the wide bodied Fil-Tongan easily overwhelmed his opponents inside the paint.
He just threw his weight around and bulldozed his way through with brute force to guide the Talk n' Text Phone Pals to a championship in 2003. He also bagged the Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference Award and eventually the MVP plum during the same year.
Success then became elusive for 'the Rock' when despite his dominance, failed to make it back to the promise land.
However, Taulava's greatest legacy was the way he took care of himself to remain competitive until the age of 47. 'The Ageless Rock' is currently the oldest player in the PBA and will be playing for his last conference with all the gas left in his tank, all to put an exclamation point to a well decorated career.
Simon had the story that everyone can relate to. From a fourth round pick in the 2001 PBA draft, the 39 old guard worked his way up from being a relatively unknown player to a bonafide superstar. He thrived on his bench role in the Purefood franchise getting the niche as the team's super-sub.
He eventually made it to stardom in Purefood's championship run in 2010 and proved to be a vital cog for the TJ Giants offense.
He then eventually form the great triumvirate with James Yap and Marc Pingris, serving as the backbone of the Purefoods franchise that went on to win the grandslam in 2014 under head coach Tim Cone.
'The Scoring Apostle' now have eight championships under his belt, a PBA mythical second team member and an eight-time All Star.
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