WHAT'S in a name? Not much, you may say. But to a parent, naming a baby can be a meaningful event. One trusted approach: Name the little ones after famous athletes, slightly hoping that someday the kid might soar like Samboy, leap like LeBron or be like Mike.
That’s why we have many Larrys, Michaels, Roberts and Ramons among us—named after the basketball legends Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Robert Jaworski, and Ramon Fernandez, respectively. Still, not many achieved the same greatness as their namesakes. Naturally, the next generation of athletes made a name for themselves—sparking a new breed of Kobes, LeBrons, James, and June Mars.
This got us curious: Can we form a superteam of players with the same name in the PBA? We take inspiration from The Ringer writer Shea Serrano’s 2017 article The NBA First-Name Game. The main objective: Build the strongest lineup composed of players with the same first name. Let’s apply the same rules. Homonyms get grouped together—for example, the Rays, Reys, and Reynels will make up one team. Known names apply. Side note: Did you know Jojo Lastimosa’s first name is Isabelo? Or the better question is: are you old enough to remember how good Jolas was?
Finally, in forming your team, think of the player in his prime if he can thrive in the modern game’s faster pace and style of play (less post-ups and midrange jumpers, more threes and drives).
Serrano’s ranking crowned the All-Kevin Team (Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale, Kevin Johnson, and Kevin Love) as the clear winner in the NBA. In the PBA, we also have a frontrunner, although we leave it up to you to come up with a stronger contender.
What separates our pick from the rest is that we present a full roster. Ready to meet our top bet in the PBA First-Name Game? Allow us to introduce the PBA All-Chris Team.
Chris Calaguio, Chris Banchero, Chris Ellis, Chris Cantonjos, Chris Tan
As you can see, the Chrises bring a deep bench. The toughest cut who could have been a starter is Calaguio, the former Letran sniper who won the 2007 Mr. Quality Minutes award and one championship in his PBA stint. Banchero and Tan provide steady scoring, shooting, and playmaking abilities from the backcourt. Former UAAP MVP Cantonjos adds size and Slam Dunk champ Ellis offers elite athleticism at the wing.
Chris Calaguio makes an appearance in a legends game.
Before we reveal the starters, let’s pour one out for the honorary member of the All-Chris team: Cris Bolado. The 11-time PBA champ passed away in 2017.
Starting wings: Chris Lutz, Chris Newsome
Lutz and Newsome make a formidable wing tandem with versatility, athleticism, and outside shooting. They can also defend the opposing team’s top scorer and are both willing passers. Plus, they can score at will when needed.
Starting guards: Chris Tiu, Chris Ross
Good luck scoring against this backcourt. We all know Ross, the two-time PBA Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, as an elite defender but Tiu’s defense is underrated. The former PBA three-point king is not afraid to get physical and fearless in guarding the best scorers in the league. Both are also known as clutch shooters with high basketball IQ.
Starting big: Chris Jackson
Listed at 6-foot-4, Jackson hardly stands out as a big but he definitely held his ground battling against bigger foes. He’s called “Stonewall” Jackson for a reason. The two-time PBA champ guarded imports or top big men and hardly gave an inch of space even as taller players backed him down in the paint. Plus, he went all out for loose balls and missed shots—making him one of the league’s elite rebounders with more than 2,500 defensive and 1,000 offensive boards in his 10-year PBA stint.
What makes the PBA All-Chris team more formidable? They have a good coach.
Coach: Chris Gavina
Gavina, now an assistant with Rain or Shine, led the Kia/Mahindra/Columbian Dyip franchise to their first-ever PBA playoff appearance in 2016 and their most successful conference so far (2016 Governors’ Cup with a 6-5 record). What makes this achievement special? Check out Mahindra’s roster at the time and you will hardly find household names in the lineup.
Can any other PBA team made up of the same first names contend against the All-Chris squad? The ball is in your court.