Willie Marcial

As PBA Approaches 50th Anniversary, Marcial Has Plans For 50 Greatest

The PBA commissioner has some thoughts on the planned top 50 players of all time to celebrate the league’s 50th anniversary.

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Asia’s first professional basketball league, will be hitting a major milestone next year when it celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 9, 2025.

This early, the league is already planning a major celebration that aims to give a nod to its storied past. And in keeping with past milestones, the PBA is set to name its 50 greatest players ever.

Since it named its 40 greatest 10 years ago, the 50 greatest will include ten new names. A committee will be appointed to choose the next ten, and if Commissioner Willie Marcial has his way, he’d prefer to prioritize the pioneers and old-timers.

“Maglalagay din tayo ng committee doon,” the commissioner told The GAME on Monday. “Madugo ang 50th. Ang suggestion ko naman, (19)75 to (19)90. ‘Yan lang muna. Kasi tumatalon tayo. 1975 to 1990 lang. Doon muna tayo sa mga una. Pag nasaid na natin, ‘di tsaka tumalon. Unahin muna natin ‘yung mga (nauna). ‘Yan ang magiging suggestion ko sa committee.”

It will be recalled that some longtime PBA fans were not pleased with the exclusion of several top players from the league’s formative years when the 25 greatest and 40 greatest lists were released in 2000 and 2015, respectively. Among the notable names omitted include 13-time champion Abe King, ten-time champion and 1979 Rookie of the Year Arnie Tuadles, and seven-time champion Nelson Asaytono.

Hopefully, the commissioner’s plan will address this, although traditionally all Most Valuable Player winners have been given slots in these “greatest ever” lists. After the 2015 40 Greatest were named, June Mar Fajardo and Scottie Thompson have since been named MVP, all but assuring themselves of spots in the PBA 50 Greatest.

Since the 50th anniversary will technically fall on the league’s 49th season, the festivities will run for over a year, and things will get going once the Bingo Plus PBA Philippine Cup Finals between the San Miguel Beermen and Meralco Bolts is over.

“For next season, kasi madami tayong gagawin para going to the 50th anniversary. After this finals, magkakaroon tayong activities at ida-drum up na natin ng 50th. Kasi yung birthday natin, April 9, nasa 49th season.

“So, ida-drum up na natin para sa 50th. Iba na yun. Madami tayong activities sa 50th.

Buong season yun. Pero ito, ida-drum up na natin yung birthday natin sa 49th, sa April 9. Pero siguro bago mag-49th  sa birthday natin, madami na tayong mga gagawing programa at sana magkasama-sama lahat. Magkasama-sama lahat na nag-participate, tumulong o nakatulong sa PBA.”

Meanwhile, amid declining gate attendance, Marcial also shared data on the television ratings of the games during the Philippine Cup to show that the league still has a strong audience.

‘Nung eliminations this conference, uma-average tayo ng 1.2 million eyeballs at any given time. Mataas na laro natin, Game 5 Ginebra-Meralco. Um-average tayo ng 2.8 million, ang peak ‘nun ay 3.5 million. Game 7, 2.4 million eyeballs. Sa RPTV pa lang iyon, wala pa yung (PBA) Rush, wala pa iyong sa online. So nandito pa rin ang PBA.”

Maganda iyong coverage nang lumipat sa RPTV. Patuloy pa rin ang mga fans. Hindi tayo iniwanan. Nadadagdagan pa sila. Maraming salamat sa mga fans na patuloy an sumusuporta sa atin.

Banner Image from PBA Media Bureau.

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