IF I’m not mistaken, in the NBA, the longest tenured teammates on the same team among the active players are Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. They’ve been hardcourt buddies with the San Antonio Spurs since the 2001-02 season.
That’s 11 long years, going on 12. (Not even some married couples last that long… Haha)
In the PBA, which active players have been teammates for the longest time? Here are the Top 5 on a list we culled:
5. Alaska’s Sonny Thoss & Tony dela Cruz – 8 seasons
This partnership began on August 1, 2005 when Dela Cruz was acquired by Alaska from Shell along with Rich Alvarez in exchange for Rob Duat, Eugene Tejada, and the Aces’ 2005 & 2009 first round draft picks. Thoss was taken in by Alaska a year earlier, the No.5 overall pick in the Draft where Alvarez was selected first overall by Shell.
4. San Mig Coffee’s James Yap & Peter June Simon – 9 seasons
Former Purefoods/B-Meg and now-Meralco head coach Ryan Gregorio was responsible for putting together this partnership which is now on its ninth season. Yap was taken is as the No. 2 overall pick in that 2004 Draft behind Alvarez, while Simon was acquired as an unrestricted free agent, having been drafted by Sta. Lucia in the fifth round & 43rd overall three years earlier.
3. Talk ‘N Text’s Jimmy Alapag & Harvey Carey – 10 seasons
Both players entered the PBA via the 2003 Draft and were Talk ‘N Text’s first round selections. Harvey was the Tropang Texters’ fourth overall pick (behind Alaska’s Mike Cortez, Barangay Ginebra’s Romel Adducul, and Shell’s Eddie Laure), while Alapag was chosen 10th and last in the first round. They’ve been inseparable at TNT ever since.
By the way, who are the five other players picked ahead of Alapag, all of whom he eventually beat for Rookie of the Year honors at season’s end? 5. Alaska’s Brandon Cablay, 6. Purefoods’ Billy Mamaril, 7. Red Bull’s Rico Villanueva, 8. San Miguel Beer’s Marlon Legaspi and, 9. Coca-Cola’s Reynel Hugnatan.
2. Petron Blaze’s Danny Ildefonso & Dorian Pena – 10 seasons & 2 conferences
Ildefonso and Pena became teammates starting in 2001 when the latter was acquired by the then San Miguel Beermen as a direct-hire recruit from the MBA. After just one game in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup however Pena, along with Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, and Paul Artadi were shipped to Air21 in exchange for rookies Nonoy Baclao, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, and Rey Francis Guevarra (curiously all aren’t with the team now) in a blockbuster trade that shocked many.
But after four conferences with Air21, which was later named Barako Bull, Pena was reacquired by Petron Blaze in exchange for Carlo Sharma and Celino Cruz, thus renewing his partnership with Ildefonso in the Boosters’ frontline, although both have mostly been coming off the bench in the twilight years of their respective careers.
And the longest PBA teammates among the active players are…(am sure most of you, guessed this correctly)…
1. Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand – 11 seasons
The Fast and the Furious’ duo began when Caguioa was selected third overall by the Kings in the 2001 Draft behind Willie Miller of Red Bull and Mike Hrabak of Shell. This rivalry would have been trying to keep up with that of the Duncan-Parker partnership at San Antonio in the NBA but Caguioa sat out the 2008-09 season because of injury, hence they have been teammates for one less season than their NBA counterparts.
What this Caguioa-Helterbrand collaboration has, however, which Duncan and Parker don’t have, are their having won a Most Valuable Player award each.
But of course, that’s already another matter.