THERE had been only one Pope to ever play in the PBA. His name – David Pope.
A 6-7, 210-lb. player who went to the Philippines in between his two seasons in the NBA – first with the Kansas City Kings then with the Seattle SuperSonics, Pope played for Tanduay in 1985 and led the Rhummakers to a fourth-place finish in the Open Conference.
Playing alongside the likes of Ramon Fernandez, Freddie Hubalde, Willie Generalao, Padim Israel, Ely Capacio and Onchie dela Cruz, the Newport, Virginia native averaged 34.9 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.6 shotblocks in 22 games with a high of 61 points (1-25-8) in a 114-113 loss to Northern Consolidated on April 11, 1985. Pope shot 37 percent from three-point range, 52% from the two-point area and 74% from the 15-foot line.
Selected by the Utah Jazz in the third round of the 1984 NBA draft at 62nd overall, Pope, a former Norfolk State University standout, averaged only 1.9 points in his 33 combined games with the Kings and Sonics.
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On April 20, 2005, The day after Pope Benedict XVI was elected new leader of the Catholic world, Danny Seigle had 28 points, on a 4-of-7 shooting from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, to go with five rebounds, two assists and two shotblocks in leading San Miguel Beer to a come-from-behind 71-70 win over Purefoods in the 2005 Fiesta Conference.
However, it was Dondon Hontiveros who won the game for the Beermen, burying a three-pointer with seven seconds left for the marginal basket, after missing his first five shots from the beyond arc.
Nic Belasco recorded the only double-double of the game with his 12 points and 13 rebounds for San Miguel Beer, which trailed the Hotdogs by as much as 15 points in the third quarter.
Purefoods, then under Ryan Gregorio, was led by the 25 and 18 points, respectively, of James Yap and Kerby Raymundo.
In the other game, FedEx beat Coca-Cola 75-74 behind Renren Ritualo’s 29 points.
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The day after Pope Francis was named head of the Catholic Church on Friday, Hontiveros and Belasco, now playing for Alaska, go up against Ritualo and the Express while James Yap and the San Mig Coffee Mixers take on Meralco and their former head coach Gregorio in the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup which holds its games in Antipolo City for the first time in the conference.