Tallest Filipino Basketball Players
There was a time when a 6-8 man mountain by the name of Bonifacio â€œBonnieâ€ de Jesus towered over a lean batch of big men in the late 1970s. De Jesus carried the national team colors in the 1978 Asian Youth basketball championship. The RP youth team was able to defend its crown this despite using Bonnie de Jesus sparingly. He was slow and lumbering, typical of most big men at that time and was only able to play the game not because of his talent but due to his enormous size. He starred in a tagalong movie entitled “Mong” which was a comic character depicting the struggles of a very tall basketball player. Nothing was heard from de Jesus after the movie until his demise in the early 1980s.
The tallest PBA player on record is the 7-0 Edward Joseph Feihl who last donned the red and white jersey of the Red Bull Barakos. Feihl had meaningful stints with Ginebra (who drafted him second overall in the 1995 PBA Draft), Purefoods and Alaska. He tried out for a spot in the Welcoat Dragons roster in the offseason but failed to impress coach Leo Austria. Other PBA players who surpassed the 6-8 mark was former Shell beanpole Frederick Canlas, a 6-9 giant whom the Oilers drafted 7th overall in the 2001 PBA Draft (yes, ahead of Renren Ritualo), Air21 Expressâ€™ 6-8 Yancy de Ocampo, ex-Ginebra and Alaska player 6-9 James Walkvist, and former Swift, Tanduay and Purefoods gangling 6-9 250lb Bonel Balingit.
The tallest Filipino ever who played the game based on my recollection was the 7-3 Raul Dillo. Dillo created a lot of fuss when he first burst the basketball scene with a stint at the 1994 Palarong Pambansa. He stood beside a 5-2 teammate who was the shortest player in the tournament. Dillo was enlisted by the University of the East Red Warriors as a member of its training team but failed to make the grade. After his UE stint, he took his acts to the MBA where he became a sideshow to the San Juan Knights. Dillo never played a single game in the MBA. He then drifted to showbizness playing bit roles as either a monster or a Kapre (a Philippine mythical figure similar to Bigfoot in the West).
Today, the title of the tallest active PBA player is being shared by Sta. Lucia Realtyâ€™s 6-9 Marlou Aquino, Red Bullâ€™s 6-9 Mick Pennisi, San Miguelâ€™s injured center 6-9 Andy Seigle and Talk N Textâ€™s 6-9 Asi Taulava.
Before the time of the Marlou Aquinos and Asi Taulavas of this generation, there was the 6-6 Romulo â€œBig Mamaâ€ Mamaril and the 6-7 Adriano â€œDongâ€ Polistico who manned the courts of Ultra, Cuneta Astrodome and the Araneta Coliseum. They were the tallest PBA players in the late 1990s and cast fear on court because of their mean streak and gargantuan size. Mamaril was a lean, towering slotman who could score inside and block shots. He played a total of 449 games in 11 years averaging 4.7 ppg and 4.6 rpg for Crispa, Manhattan, Tanduay, Anejo and Shell. Polistico, on the other hand, made a name for himself as an enforcer, the one tasked to defend against the other teamâ€™s best frontcourt players. He played 433 games in the PBA averaging 3.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg for Alaska Milk and San Miguel Beer. He donned the national colors in the 1994 Asian Games and the 1999 Jones Cup.
If the 6-10 Samigue Eman makes it to the PBA next season, he will replace the likes of Mick Pennisi and Andy Seigle as one of the tallest active PBA players. Eman, 24, unlike other traditional big men, is no slouch. He is very mobile and well-coordinated. He moves with grace, dunks with authority and blocks shots with impunity. At one time during the past PBL conference, he led the league in block shots with an astonishing 4 blocks a game. He is still on the verge of developing into a solid player and has very raw fundamentals. The consensus is he will get better as he earns enough experience playing against tough competition. He could have made it into the big league as one of three players Welcoat Dragons planned to elevate directly but got nixed. He will enter the draft next year.
Another set of tall youngsters â€“ 6-9 ultra-athletic pair of Japeth Aguilar and Gian Chiu â€“ are currently playing and studying abroad. If they both make into the NBA in the near future, they will get into the record books as the first Filipino(s) to ever make it into the majors. If they fail, well, at least, they had a good training ground to be a successful professional basketball player in the Philippines.
Tallest Filipino Basketball Players of All-Time
Note: Height is based on the measurements that appear in various media sources and not necessarily the actual physical measurements. If you know the actual height of these players, please tell me.
1) Raul Dillo 7â€™3â€ University of the East (UAAP), San Juan Knights (MBA)
2) EJ Feihl 7â€™0â€ Adamson University (UAAP), Ginebra, Purefoods, Alaska, Red Bull (PBA)
3) Samigue Eman 6â€™10â€ University of Mindanao, Rain or Shine (PBL)
4) Andrew John Seigle 6â€™9â€ Talk N Text, Purefoods, Brgy Ginebra (PBA)
5) James Walkvist 6â€™9â€ Ginebra (PBA)
6) Marlou Aquino 6â€™9â€ Adamson University (UAAP), Ginebra, Sta Lucia Realty (PBA)
7) Bonnel Balingit 6â€™9â€ Swift, Tanduay, Purefoods (PBA)
8) Mick Pennisi 6â€™9â€ Red Bull (PBA)
9) Frederick Canlas 6â€™9â€ Formula Shell (PBA)
10) Asi Taulava 6â€™9â€ Talk N Text (PBA)
11) Japeth Aguilar 6â€™9â€ Ateneo (UAAP), Western Kentucky University (NCAA)
12) Gian Chiu 6â€™9â€ Ateneo HS (UAAP)
13) Paolo Napo 6â€™9â€ University of the East (UAAP)
14) Danny Jomamil 6â€™9â€ Adamson University (UAAP)
15) Yancy de Ocampo 6â€™8â€ St Francis (NCRAA), Air21, Talk N Text (PBA)
16) Raffy Reavies 6â€™8â€ Swift, Brgy Ginebra (PBA)
17) Joachim Thoss 6â€™8â€ Alaska (PBA)
18) Bonifacio de Jesus 6â€™8â€ RP Team Youth Asian Games (1978)
19) Don Yabut 6â€™8â€ Far Eastern University (UAAP), Welcoat (PBL)
20) Francis de Leon 6â€™8â€ San Sebastian College (NCAA)
21) Jason Ballesteros 6â€™8â€ San Sebastian College (NCAA)
22) Eric Suguitan 6â€™8â€ University of the East (UAAP)
23) Lawrence Bonus 6â€™7â€ University of Manila, Montana (PBL)
24) Alex Crisano 6â€™7â€ Ginebra, Tanduay (PBA)
25) Dong Polistico 6â€™7â€ Alaska (PBA)
26) Cris Bolado 6â€™7â€ National University (UAAP), Alaska, Swift, Ginebra, Purefoods (PBA)
27) Mark Kong 6â€™7â€ Adamson University (UAAP), Alaska, San Miguel (PBA)
28) Mark Andaya 6â€™7â€ Letran College (NCAA), Talk N Text (PBA)
29) Vincent San Diego 6â€™7â€ De La Salle University (UAAP)
30) Gilbert Lao 6â€™7â€ University of Sto. Thomas (UAAP) Coca Cola, Welcoat (PBA)
31) Dorian PeÃ±a 6â€™7â€ Cornell University (NCAA), San Miguel (PBA)
32) Giovanni Pineda 6â€™7â€ Adamson University (UAAP), Alaska (PBA)
33) Clark â€œPepâ€ Moore 6â€™7â€ San Sebastian College (NCAA)
34) Philip Butel 6â€™7â€ University of the East (UAAP)
35) Dino Berame 6â€™7â€ University of the Visayas (CESAFI)
Do you know other taller Filipino basketball players?
To be continued… Tomorrow, we will feature the shortest Filipino basketball players of all time.