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    Legends name two PBA players who could've thrived in 'no-blood, no-foul' era

    Aug 31, 2020

    EVER wondered what the distinct difference is between players during the PBA's glory days in the 70s through the 90’s to the current generation of hoops stars?

    Philip Cezar said it's the mentality.

    The Crispa great and former PBA MVP says most of the early stars of the pro league learned the game in 'kanto' courts, developing a tough, kill-or-be-killed mentality that manifested in their games.

    “Hindi naman sa sinasabi ko na may henerasyong mas magaling ha. Pero yung time kasi namin, halos karamihan ng players, sa basketball court sa kanto lumaki … kaya ganun ang level of play,” said Cezar.

    “Kaya mapapansin mo, mga players nung araw, walang kinatatakutan. Balewala sa kanila ibangga yung kanilang katawan. Walang takot,” he added.

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    Himself a player who honed his skills in the streets of Brgy. Bagong Silang in Mandaluyong, Cezar, currently a consultant of Go for Gold San Juan Knights in the MPBL, believes players nowadays are more fundamentally sound because of their training in schools.

    And more sheltered in the process.

    "Pag pumasok ka sa hardcourt noon, asahan mo masasaktan ka. Kaya handa kang masaktan at handa ka ring manakit in return. Yan ang isa sa mga inaabangan nun,” he said. "Ngayon, hindi na. Iba na ang pituhan tapos ang lalaki na ng fine at sanctions. Kaya nagdadalawang isip na rin mga players."

    The 15-time PBA champion, however, believes two current PBA stars - Beau Belga and Calvin Abueva - could've not only survived but also thrived in that 'no-blood, no-foul' era of Philippine basketball.

    "Yang dalawang players na yan, pag dinala nyo yan sa panahon namin, kayang mag- survive ng mga yan," says the 68-year PBA legend. "Kasi lumaki sa kanto yan eh. Hindi sila takot masaktan."

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    Cezar continued: "Makikita mo naman sa mga laro nila. Kaya nga sikat sila at lagi napapag-usapan kasi magagaling sila tapos lagi silang nasa sentro ng kontrobersya. Mas exciting di ba?”

    Another PBA legend, Jerry Codinera, agreed.

    "Yung ibang player ngayon, pag dinala mo sa panahon naming nun, iiyak karamihan sa kanila. Lalaban sila siguro sa una, pero maninibago. Kaya pansinin mo, ang daming prospects nun sa college ang hindi tumagal,” said Codinera.

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    “Ang daming player nung araw ang sikat nung college, 6-7, 6-8 pa ang mga height pero pagdating sa PBA, hindi tumagal. Three, four years lang, bye-bye na. Ayaw ko nang magbanggit ng pangalan, pero tignan mo sa listahan,” he said.

    “Paano sila tatagal pagpasok nila PBA, sasalubungin sila nila Rambo Sanchez, Mon Fernandez, Yoy Villamin, Ricky Relosa, Robert Jaworski, Onchie Dela Cruz, Rey Lazaro, Rudy Distrito. Masasaktan ka,” added the ‘Defense Minister.'

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    A former coach of the Arellano in the NCAA, Codinera said the common denominator for Belga, Abueva and another league banger, Vic Manuel, is that all were toughened in street basketball and ligang labas matches.

    “Malaking bagay rin kasi yung ma-expose ka sa ligang labas. Kasi iba’t-ibang klase ng tao at players makakasalamuha mo. Kaya nagiging concious ka sa pwedeng mangyari, in turn tumatapang ka,” said Codinera, who claimed he played in the same street basketball court with PBA great Hector Calma and Ed Cordero.

    “Malaking tulong 'yung sa kanto ka lumaki, na-a-undermine ng player yung fear.”

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    “Isipin mo dadayo ka sa isang lugar, di mo kilala mga players. Dun mo pa lang i-iscout at susukatin. Magandang training yun unlike sa mga collegiate players ngayon, yun at yun lang ang kalaban nila,” added the member of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players.

    Distrito, a player who typified the physicality of PBA basketball in the nineties, was - to no one's surprise - also found of Abueva and Belga.

    “Magagaling lahat player ngayon, pero lahat sila masusubukan ako," said 'The Destroyer.' "Pero isa sa gustong-gusto ko ngayon si Abueva. Yan saka yung Belga, kayang mag-adapt nun sa players nuon, sa panahon namin."

    "Nuong araw kasi normal na makita mo mga players may dugo dahil sa laro. Kaya karamihan sa amin mapapansin mo may mga tahi sa mukha. Si Jawo lang ilan ang tahi nun,” added Distrito.

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      Cezar stressed that physicality and rough tactics are not the same.

      "Magkaiba yan. Yung pisikal kasi, naglalaro 'yan pero handang makipagsakitan. Una pa rin ang laro sa kanya. Yung bruiser, iba yan. Nananakit lang talaga yan. Sila yung ipapasok sa laro sa misyon na alam mo na,” he said.

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      Cezar said the perfect basketball player is fundamentally sound, has finesse, and plays with a lot of heart.

      "Pinagsama namin yun kasi hindi mo dapat inaalis sa mga players yung instinct nila. Pwedeng mo silang bigyan ng finesse, pero hindi mo dapat inaalis yung tapang at kung ano yung natural sa kanila,” he said.

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