In his first return to the country after retiring in 1990, PBA legend Ricky Brown was treated to some exciting games.
And the Quick Brown Fox noticed many changes about today’s PBA game.
“Games are a lot more physical now, which I love,” Brown told InterAKTV in an interview. “Definitely, the level of play is a lot better now compared to our time.”
Brown, the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1983 and Most Valuable Player in 1985, was the first Filipino-American star in the league. His stint in the PBA helped paved the way for the entry of other talented foreign-born players a decade later, which helped increase the quality of play in the league.
But Brown said that the top players from his time could still hold their own if they were playing in the PBA today.
He mentioned several pioneering stars whom he said would be just as good if they were competing in the present times. Robert Jaworski, he said, would give today’s guards fits.
“A lot of people thought that Jaworski was a dirty player, but he will not be shy in giving up a hard foul to prevent you from getting a shot off or to make you think twice about taking the ball to the basket. But he never deliberately tried to hurt me or give me what I thought was a ‘cheap shot,’” said Brown.
“To my mind, The Big J is the most charismatic player in the PBA during my time and he was the face of his franchise and the league in general. He wasn’t the most talented or physically-gifted player, but he was like a pit bulldog. There was no quit in him, which is why Ginebra has become a never-say-die squad.”
Brown said Jaworski’s former teammate and rival, four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez, had skills that would still translate today.
“I played against him when he was with Toyota, Manila Beer and Tanduay and with him when we were with San Miguel Beer,” said Brown.
“Ramon had a nice mid-range jump shot, good post moves, could handle the ball when necessary, great passer (his best asset, in my opinion), and a good rebounder,” added Brown.
Another former Brown teammate, three-time MVP Bogs Adornado, would also thrive in today’s game, he said.
“He has the best head and shoulder fake I’ve seen in PBA history,” said Brown. “When I joined Bogs at Great Taste, he had already undergone surgeries on his knee, but he made up for that with a huge repertoire of offensive skills — dead-eye shooter from up to 20 feet, great offensive moves from the mid-post, automatic from the free throw line.”
Another former MVP, Philip Cezar, who played with and against Brown, also ranks high up on Brown’s list.
“Philip, when he was at his best, could do it all: defend, rebound, pass, shoot the mid-range jumper, post-up, and had great court intelligence. I think Philip might be one of the more under-appreciated players of his time. He was a tremendously talented basketball player,” said Brown.
Brown also lauded Cezar’s front court partner at Great Taste, Abe King.
“He’s only 6-foot-3, but he plays like he was 6-foot-8,” said Brown, who won championships with King from 1985 to 1987 at the height of the Great Taste dynasty.