DESPITE the size, strength and athleticism of today's generation of players, PBA great Danny Florencio believes no Filipino player still comes close to Ramon Fernandez, the pro league’s first four-time MVP.
“Wala pang makakapareho diyan kay Mon," Florencio, named one of the 25 Greatest Players of the pro league's first 25 years, told Spin.ph. "Kasi si Mon kumpleto eh. Magaling ang paa niya, magaling mag-pivot, magaling mag-shoot saka mautak maglaro.”
Florencio, who is on a month-long vacation in Manila, was at ringside to watch the PBA matches on Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum - the same floor where he distinguished himself as one of the league's high-flying and hang-time artists in the PBA's first eight seasons.
But in the 31 years since he retired, Florencio, listed generously in PBA annals at 5-foot-10, said he hasn't seen a Filipino big man - homegrown or Fil-foreign - who can match the all-around skills of Fernandez, his former teammate at the fabled Toyota team.
Now based in San Francisco, Florencio said players during his time were not as tall compared to today's players, but their biggest advantage is court smarts.
Florencio, whose scintillating 32.3 points per game average during the 1977 season with Seven-Up still stands as the highest scoring average of a local player for one season, said it was the same with the small men, citing the case of contemporary Larry 'Little Fox' Mumar.
“Alam mo, ako hinangaan ko sa team noong naglalaro kami, si Larry Mumar. Kasi siya, walang power, pero utak ang ginagamit. Ang payat 'nun, pero napakagaling,” said the 66-year-old cage great.
“Saka di mo maaagawan yun (Mumar). Pero kapag ginanun ka ng bola (quick jab step), mawawala ka na," said Florencio, who also had stints with U-Tex, Seven-Up and Gallerie Dominique before calling it a career in 1983. "Ngayon wala akong nakikitang ganun.”