Abet Guidaben was one of the best big men the Philippine Basketball Association has ever produced and at least in the first 15 seasons of the league, he and Mon Fernandez were the premier big men of Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league.
Year 1987 was another banner year for Guidaben as he won his second Most Valuable Player Award. He was one of the remaining veterans in the rebuilding San Miguel Beer team, which was retooled by the star players from the Northern Consolidated Cement team led by Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Yves Dignadice, Franz Pumaren, Tonichi Yturri, Elmer Reyes, Pido Jarencio and Alfie Almario among others.
Norman Black, who coached the San Miguel Beer and turned the team into a dominant squad leading to the grand slam in 1989, recalled the early years of his coaching career where Guidaben became an integral part of his success.
“He was a big part of the team when I won my first championship as head coach,” Black told ABS-CBN News. “We were teammates when we won the First Conference of the 1988 season against an up and coming Purefoods squad with David Thirdkill as import. Those two seasons were memorable for me.”
“Abet is a super nice guy and he has a good family. As a player, he was one of the great centers. He’s an excellent rebounder and an efficient center. He and Mon Fernandez were the premier centers when I came in and play in the PBA.”
On this day, July 14, 34 years ago, Guidaben accomplished another milestone in his career as he became the sixth member of the PBA’s 10,000-point club. He even came there faster than the Big J Robert Jaworski, who joined the company two years later.
Jay P. Mercado, a notable basketball historian, who’s been following the PBA as early as 1975, wasn’t surprised to see Guidaben reaching the 10,000-point club faster than Jaworski.
“Abet was a late-bloomer and started scoring buckets in 1982 and by then, Jaworski was already getting more injured and focused more on play making,” wrote Mercado in an online message. “He only became the primary point-maker for Crispa in 1983 when Tommy Manotoc took over as coach. From there on, he was always a leading candidate for the MVP honors.”
In 1988, Guidaben would have won his third MVP award, but a controversy involving Fernandez, who was accused of game-fixing during Purefoods’ finals encounter against Añejo Rhum 65, forced the Hotdogs in trading The Franchise to his long-time nemesis. Fernandez won the season MVP award as his team went on to win the title in the Third Conference that season while Guidaben’s new squad, Purefoods, was eliminated early.
But Guidaben was one among the most durable players in the PBA and he went on to play until 1995. He was one of the two pioneering players in the league along with Jaworski who were still playing at that time.
Two years before his retirement, Guidaben became only the second player to reach the 15,000-point club, joining Fernandez. Alvin Patrimonio would become the third member more than a decade later.
A 16-time PBA champion and member of the PBA’s two grand slam teams of Crispa in 1976 and 1983, Guidaben was the record holder for most games played (1,081), second for most all-time rebounds (8,570). In Year 2000, he was one among those players named to the league’s 25 Greatest Players and was enshrined to the PBA Hall Of Fame in 2007.
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