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    Is it time to open the doors of exclusive PBA Hall of Fame again?

    Mar 24, 2020
    ILLUSTRATION: Echo Antonio

    BEING labeled as a great is one thing. But to be enshirined in the Hall of Fame, that's special.

    To date, only 40 players have been given the honor of being inducted to the PBA Hall of Fame - quite an exclusive group considering Asia's first professional basketball league has been around for the past 45 years.

    Launched in 2005 during the time of commissioner Noli Eala to celebrate the league's 30th season, the Hall of Fame welcomed the first batch of 12 honorees consisting of players, coaches, and personalities which set the table for the league.

    That list included a who's who of the PBA's formative seasons, flanked by superstars Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Bogs Adornado, and Francis Arnaiz.

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    But it's not all players, with people behind the scenes also being feted in that first batch.

    Founding PBA president Emerson Coseteng of Mariwasa-Noritake and Leo Prieto, the league's first commissioner, bannered the off-court honorees together with the league's third chief Rudy Salud, who drafted the league's constitution.

    Legendary Crispa head coach Baby Dalupan, the league's first Grand Slam winner, was also hailed together with Redmanizers team manager Danny Floro.

    Vintage Sports' play-by-play commentator Joe Cantada completed the inaugural list as the batch's media honoree.

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    The list, meticulously skimmed by the Screening Committee and deliberated upon by the Honors Committee, meant only a few could get in this illustrious club.

    Since then, the league has added more names to the Hall of Fame every two years.

    Unsurprisingly, members of the 25 Greatest Players were included, among them Abet Guidaben, Manny Paner, and Danny Florencio (2007), Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, and Ricardo Brown (2009), and Alvin Patrimonio and Freddie Hubalde (2011).

    Standout imports Norman Black (2007), Bobby Parks Sr. (2009), and Billy Ray Bates (2011) were also given their due recognition, as well as coaches like Ron Jacobs, Dante Silverio, Tommy Manotoc, and Tito Eduque.

    Executives also earned their place, among them NCC and SMC owner Danding Cojuangco, Tanduay team manager Domingo Itchon, former PBA president Carlos "Honeyboy" Palanca, and commissioners Mariano Yenko and Jun Bernardino.

    Media practitioners who helped the league's ascent were also included, namely Vintage Enterprises CEO Carlos "Bobong" Velez, commentator Pinggoy Pengson, and former sports editor Tony Siddayao, who is considered as the Dean of Philippine sportswriting.

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    Interestingly, it has been seven years since the Hall of Fame accepted new inductees.

    The last batch, presented in 2013, was only a lean four-man list led by two-time PBA MVP Benjie Paras, Shell teammate Ronnie Magsanoc, U-Tex great Lim Eng Beng, and coach Ed Ocampo, who handled Royal (now-San Miguel), Toyota, and Pepsi.

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    That batch was carefully curated by the Honors Committee made up of former PBA chairs Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine and Mon Segismundo of Meralco, together with media practitioner Bobby Barreiro and veteran sports editors Ding Marcelo, Joe Antonio, and Jun Lomibao.

    Chito Salud led the formal enshrinement of the four at November 17, 2013 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Seven years on, the Hall of Fame will be spoiled for choice in case in opens its doors to new members.

    Missing the cut in that batch alone were deserving candidates like Arnie Tuadles, former Alaska resident import Sean Chambers, longtime league official Elmer Yanga, referee Igmidio Cahanding, and sportswriter Fred Luarca.

    Also earning votes from the Selection Committee were former Crispa guard Bernie Fabiosa, Abe King, Ato Agustin, Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa, Padim Israel, and import Byron "Snake" Jones.

    So, is it time to open the Hall of Fame's doors again?

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    We say it's long overdue.

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    ILLUSTRATION: Echo Antonio
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