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The Top 5 Centers of the 2014-2015 PBA Season

03:23 PM July 26, 2015

TNT-smb de fajardo

The PBA has long been dominated by guards. From 2006-2012, all but one season MVP were guards (James Yap – twice, Willie Miller, Jayjay Helterbrand, Jimmy Alapag, and Mark Caguioa). Kelly Williams was the only exception, bagging the season MVP in 2008. In the past three seasons, however, big men have ruled, with Arwind Santos being MVP in 2013 and teammate June Mar Fajardo bagging the prized plum back-to-back in 2014 and 2015. Aside from the 6’10 Cebuano, however, other marquee slotmen continue to put their stamp on the league, and we’ll list down the best of them here.

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Here are the top five centers of the 2014-2015 PBA season based on the Player Efficiency ratings:

5. Raymond Almazan (ROS) – 7.6ppg, 5.6rpg, 55.7 FG%, 24.6 EFF
– I love the fact that Almazan’s scoring went up in his sophomore season, but I really don’t like how his blocks went down drastically from 1.0 per game last season to just 0.7 this time around. His minutes have been steadily increasing, though, so that surely shows some promise. The former Letran Knight’s stats per 36 minutes are actually pretty solid — 14.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game — so if he can clock in around 30+ minutes of burn per outing, he should be among the top ten players in the league.

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4. Bryan Faundo (BLA) – 9.6ppg, 5.8rpg, 48.6 FG%, 26.1 EFF
– Averaging nearly 10 points per game in his second lease on a PBA career is certainly not too shabby for 31-year old Faundo, who played just 6 games for Ginebra in the 2013-2014 campaign, but rose to become a main piece for the Elite this past season. Faundo probably won’t play any better than this moving forward, especially if Blackwater can get its hands on a few quality bigs through the draft or trades (also, JP Erram is eating into his minutes), but at least the expansion team knows it has a pretty reliable guy in the paint when it is in a pinch.

3. Asi Taulava (NLX) – 13.9ppg, 9.9rpg, 1.9apg, 48.9 FG%, 35.0 EFF
– What else has not been said about the enduring prominence of Asi Taulava? The guy just refuses to fade away despite the fact he will be 43 in the middle of next season. We’re all beneficiaries, of course, as the 6’9 Fil-Tongan man-mountain continues to wow the crowd with his demeanor (and hairstyle) and his production. His resurgence has been so impressive, in fact, that nobody should be surprised if he gets a call-up to the national pool. An oldie but goodie.

2. Greg Slaughter (GIN) – 14.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.3apg, 49.4 FG%, 70.5 FT%, 37.0 EFF
– The 27-year old Ohio-born center had a pretty good sophomore effort in the pros, upping his scoring and rebounding, but, like Almazan, letting his rim protection slide. Slaughter didn’t make the jump to the next level that Ginebra fans were hoping to see, but his slow-and-steady approach may just be the thing that makes him an all-important piece for the team this coming season, especially since new coach Tim Cone seems to have big plans for his new big guy in the middle.

1. June Mar Fajardo (SMB) – 17.4ppg, 12.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.7bpg, 58.9 FG%, 70.3 FT%, 43.8 EFF
– It’s not even close. Fajardo is clearly ahead of every other PBA player right now, at least in terms of production and potential. The kid just seems to be improving every season, and that’s definitely a good thing, since he will be the centerpiece of San Miguel Beer for the foreseeable future and a probably key cog for Gilas Pilipinas’s immediate plans. The Kraken has proven that he can do pretty much anything on both ends of the floor (okay, maybe not shoot the three), and that’s a big reason why the El Presidente himself, Mr. Ramon Fernandez, described June Mar as being bound to be the most dominant force in league history. Care to disagree with him? Yep, I didn’t think so.

Honorable Mentions:
Sonny Thoss (ALA) – 22.0 EFF
Beau Belga (ROS) – 20.6 EFF
JP Erram (BLA) – 20.2 EFF

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