The Long and Short of It – Part III

Tallest Filipino Basketball Players

There was a time when a 6-8 man mountain by the name of Bonifacio “Bonnie” 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.

EJ FeihlThe 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 Express’ 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.

Raul Dillo and Danny JomamilThe 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 Realty’s 6-9 Marlou Aquino, Red Bull’s 6-9 Mick Pennisi, San Miguel’s injured center 6-9 Andy Seigle and Talk N Text’s 6-9 Asi Taulava.

Before the time of the Marlou Aquinos and Asi Taulavas of this generation, there was the 6-6 Romulo “Big Mama” Mamaril and the 6-7 Adriano “Dong” 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 team’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 – 6-9 ultra-athletic pair of Japeth Aguilar and Gian Chiu – 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 7’3” University of the East (UAAP), San Juan Knights (MBA)
2) EJ Feihl 7’0” Adamson University (UAAP), Ginebra, Purefoods, Alaska, Red Bull (PBA)
3) Samigue Eman 6’10” University of Mindanao, Rain or Shine (PBL)
4) Andrew John Seigle 6’9” Talk N Text, Purefoods, Brgy Ginebra (PBA)
5) James Walkvist 6’9” Ginebra (PBA)
6) Marlou Aquino 6’9” Adamson University (UAAP), Ginebra, Sta Lucia Realty (PBA)
7) Bonnel Balingit 6’9” Swift, Tanduay, Purefoods (PBA)
8) Mick Pennisi 6’9” Red Bull (PBA)
9) Frederick Canlas 6’9” Formula Shell (PBA)
10) Asi Taulava 6’9” Talk N Text (PBA)
11) Japeth Aguilar 6’9” Ateneo (UAAP), Western Kentucky University (NCAA)
12) Gian Chiu 6’9” Ateneo HS (UAAP)
13) Paolo Napo 6’9” University of the East (UAAP)
14) Danny Jomamil 6’9” Adamson University (UAAP)
15) Yancy de Ocampo 6’8” St Francis (NCRAA), Air21, Talk N Text (PBA)
16) Raffy Reavies 6’8” Swift, Brgy Ginebra (PBA)
17) Joachim Thoss 6’8” Alaska (PBA)
18) Bonifacio de Jesus 6’8” RP Team Youth Asian Games (1978)
19) Don Yabut 6’8” Far Eastern University (UAAP), Welcoat (PBL)
20) Francis de Leon 6’8” San Sebastian College (NCAA)
21) Jason Ballesteros 6’8” San Sebastian College (NCAA)
22) Eric Suguitan 6’8” University of the East (UAAP)
23) Lawrence Bonus 6’7” University of Manila, Montana (PBL)
24) Alex Crisano 6’7” Ginebra, Tanduay (PBA)
25) Dong Polistico 6’7” Alaska (PBA)
26) Cris Bolado 6’7” National University (UAAP), Alaska, Swift, Ginebra, Purefoods (PBA)
27) Mark Kong 6’7” Adamson University (UAAP), Alaska, San Miguel (PBA)
28) Mark Andaya 6’7” Letran College (NCAA), Talk N Text (PBA)
29) Vincent San Diego 6’7” De La Salle University (UAAP)
30) Gilbert Lao 6’7” University of Sto. Thomas (UAAP) Coca Cola, Welcoat (PBA)
31) Dorian Peña 6’7” Cornell University (NCAA), San Miguel (PBA)
32) Giovanni Pineda 6’7” Adamson University (UAAP), Alaska (PBA)
33) Clark “Pep” Moore 6’7” San Sebastian College (NCAA)
34) Philip Butel 6’7” University of the East (UAAP)
35) Dino Berame 6’7” 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.

17 thoughts on “The Long and Short of It – Part III”

  1. Dorian Pena played for Coppin State College, not Cornell. Coppin is the same school ex-PBA import Terquin Mott attended. In addition, he looks more like 6’5″ – 6’6″.

    Vincent San Diego is 6’9″.

    Gian Chiu is merely 6’8″ as of now. But I’ve heard that x-ray tests predict that he will grow to 6’10”. He plays for Desert Christian HS in the US. No news yet, though, as to which NCAA school he will play for.

    In a few years’ time, we will have a core of players standing 6’9″ and above who can play multiple positions.

  2. Asi Taulava is only abt 6’7. In the US, players height are added by 2-3 inches. Asi is listed at 6-9 in the US. Thats why imports listed at 6’7 is only abt 6’5 in the Philippines. Kelly Williams and Anthony Washington is listed at 6’7 but is only abt 6’5. Andy Siegle and Walkvist are listed at 6’10 bt is only abt 6’8. marlou aquino is 6’9 but could be listed at 6’11 in US. Japeth Aguilar and Gian Chiu is 6’9 in the US but is only abt 6’7.
    I hope coaches develop 6’6 and above players who can play 2-3 positions.
    We should stop the practice that if ur 6’6 u must play center.

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  4. 2008 RP-Olympic Team ??
    Jimmy Alapag 5-9 PG
    Jayjay Helterbrand 6-1 PG
    Mark Caguioa 6-0 SG/PG
    James Yap 6-3 SG/SF
    Dondon Hontiveros 6-3 SG/SF
    Gabe Norwood 6-6 SF/SG/PG
    Danny Seigle 6-7 SF/SG/PF
    Kelly Williams 6-6 PF/SF/SG
    Gian Chiu 6-9 PF/C
    Mick Pennisi 6-9 C/PF
    Asi Taulava 6-9 C/PF
    Ronnie Aguilar 7-0 C

  5. Asi taulava is only 6’8″. Marlou Aquino was listed at 6’11” during 1998 Asian Games and in some reports he is 6’10”. Watching the games live, he appears to be an inch taller than Andy seigle and Mick pennissi,about 2 inches taller than Asi and about the same height as Walkvist. He blocked a shot attempt by 7-foot-4 Wang Zhizhi of China (NBA:7’1″ but Wang is a few inches taller than Shaq when they stood beside each other at the miami bench). Vincent San Diego was reported to be 6’10” but was listed at 6’9″ in the PBL and MBA. Samigue Eman is 6’8″ according to his coach Caloy Garcia in the PBL. 6’9″ Canlas is taller than Eman when they played against each other in the PBL. James Walkvist is 6’10”. If you ever meet them, you can ask them their true heights and tell you who is taller.

  6. Paolo Napo of UE is not 6’9″. According to himself he is 6’6″. Check his profile on friendster. Vincent San Diego is 6’9″. Samigue Eman is 6’8″.

  7. there is an american who had been living here in the philippines for more than a decade…he is 16 years old…height:6-6…he’s father is a missionary…maybe he may want to be naturalized…

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