They don’t make them like they used to anymore.
While today’s hoopers are more physically gifted and can jump out of the gym, they aren’t necessarily more stylish when finishing at the rim. They’re more into three-pointers and Euro steps at this day and age. Back then, before the internet existed, the game’s best high-flyers had their own signature styles, which added immensely to the allure of the PBA.
With that in mind, let’s look back at the league’s best of the best when it came to aerial artistry.
The Aerial Voyager had options. He had the luxury to choose whether he’s busting out his bitbit layup or if he’s going for a Jordanesque reverse. When the 1995 MVP was in a mean mood, he just shifted to a higher gear to dunk the ball over someone’s head. It’s hard to think of someone more graceful and lethal at the same time when up in the air.
The Skywalker liked to cross his defender over before soaring towards the rim like a rocket. Of course, he wouldn’t touch the ground ‘til he successfully released the ball and score a basket. Even imports had a tough time guarding his aerial assaults. Maybe the secret behind it was his iconic mustache and long socks.
Mr. Excitement was freakishly athletic, especially for his time. During the late 1980s up to the mid-90s, Alvarez was attacking the rim with the kind of force and elevation rarely seen from a local talent. If it were today, when you see him on the prowl, gripping the ball with his right hand, that’s the time to bring out your smartphones and record the potentially viral moment.
The Bull was a powerhouse. When Asaytono cocked the ball behind his head to elude Jun Limpot’s defense before perfectly executing a finger roll layup, all the commentator could say was, “Anong tira ‘yon? Anong tira ‘yon ni Nelson Asaytono?” Those kinds of moves along with his explosive scoring prowess have the public calling for Asaytono’s inclusion in the PBA’s official greatest players list.
Captain Marbel had no problem slamming it home whenever the opportunity presented itself. At times, he even threw it down when a defender was involved. Aside from dunking, switching hands mid-flight to fool the shot blocker was also in the arsenal of the 1998 MVP. He was a great successor to Meneses’ throne, really.
Skyrus might’ve been the last of a dying breed. Like his predecessors, his hangtime allowed him to get his shot off after waiting until the defense succumbed to gravity. Fans from the mid-2000s should thank Baguio for providing them fantastic aerial entertainment.
Who do you think will lead the next generation of high-flyers back on the PBA marquee?