ALMOST half of the 40 Greatest Players in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history didn't show up when the league celebrated its 40th year on Wednesday night in elaborate rites held at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre Resorts World Manila.
The ‘Living Legend’ Robert Jaworski Sr. led everyone in welcoming the 15 new inductees added to the original list of 25 Greatest Players named by the league during its silver anniversary celebration of which the ‘Big J’ was a member.
All but one of the 15 players honored during the affair dubbed ‘PBA Fab@40 were in attendance namely two-time MVPs Danny Ildefonso, James Yap and Willie Miller, along with Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Eric Menk, Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava, Arwind Santos, Chito Loyzaga, Marc Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, and Jayson Castro.
Only Marlou Aquino didn't show up among the 15 new inductees.
Unfortunately, only half of the members of the 25 Greatest Players showed up. Other than Jaworski, also present were four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, three-time MVP William ‘Bogs’ Adornado, Allan Caidic, Vergel Meneses, Johnny Abarrientos, Ato Agustin, Hector Calma, Jerry Codinera, Ronnie Magsanoc, Jojo Lastimosa, and Lim Eng Beng.
Among the no-shows were four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez, Atoy Co, Freddie Hubalde, Philip Cezar, Kenneth Duremdes, and Manny Paner.
Interestingly, most of the absentees had spoken out - either on record or on social media - against some of the selections as well as the omission of equally deserving league greats.
League media bureau chief Willie Marcial explained invitations for the event celebrating the first four decades of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league were handed out ahead of time for all 40 awardees.
“Halos lahat naman nag-confirm, pero di naman lahat masasabi nating makakarating,” Marcial told Spin.ph just minutes before the sports gala began.
Marcial said it is understandable that PBA legends such as Ricky Brown, Abet Guidaben, Francis Arnaiz, Bernie Fabiosa, and Danny Florencio failed to show up since they are already based in the US.
Two-time MVP Benjie Paras is likewise in the US visiting his basketball-playing son Kobe.
For obvious reasons, Samboy Lim was also a no-show as the high-flying forward is still recuperating from a massive stroke he suffered while playing in a Legends game last November.