I always enjoy the Rookie vs. Sophmore Games (or whatever format it is these days) during All-Star Weekend. It may be a chaotic mess of teenagers running around having fun, but it is a fun display of the power of youth and their capabilities.
But what if we had a team composed of the complete opposite? What if instead of grouping the best of the youngest of our stars in the league, we put together a team of the eldest sages who are still doing their thing?
We always love to look at the players of today and ponder on what they might look like tomorrow. This time for a change, let’s take a look at the players of yesterday and reflect on what they are doing now.
For the sake of making this article easier to write, I came up with the magic cut-off age to be 35, going by birth year. That is to say that any player that was born in the year 1980 or earlier, was considered for this pool. 35 was selected simply because Michael Jordan won his last championship at 35 and Kobe Bryant missed his first playoff since his last ‘chip at 35. It seemed okay to say that, in basketball terms, reaching 35 was to get “Old”. (Please do not bring Tim Duncan into this conversation. Tim Duncan is a robot and everyone knows robots can’t get old.)
Using the information from the PBA Official Website, I was able to get a pool of 33 players to choose from. The HumbleBola database notes that the PBA has had 188 players in this Governor’s Conference, so we can come to a rough estimate that 17.6% players that PBA fields are “Old.” For reference, there have been 30 out of 492 players who have played in this NBA 2014-2015 season that are at least 35 years old, accounting for 6.1%. This might be a result of PBA players aging better or NBA players getting more chances at a younger age, but whatever the reason, that is a case that we will leave to study some other time. For now, we are focused on the grey-hairs of the PBA.
The most interesting name I found on the list was Ryan Roose Garcia, not only because he was actually born in 1990, but because he was listed to be born in 1900. That would make him 115 years old, according to the PBA database. Because of this, I decided to name this Over-35 All Star team, “The Rooster.” Congratulation, RR Garcia.
Here is the line-up of “The Roosters!”
ASI “The Rock” TAULAVA (42 Years Old), Center
This list would not be complete without the oldest active player in the PBA. Born on March 2, 1973, Taulava is now at a mind-blowing age of 42. He has logged 973.2 minutes for the NLEX Road Warriors this season for 31.1 minutes per game. He is averaging a double-double of 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
I am a 25-year-old man, and I still find it difficult to run up and down the court for a game to 21 without taking a nice long rest.
For all the amazement at however the hell it is that Taulava is still doing what he does at such an old age, it doesn’t seem like he is stopping either. Since 2012, his minutes might be down a bit (From 36.0 to 37.4 to 31.1) but his usage rate has kept going up (15.9 to 20.4 to 23.2). Not only was he getting more touches, he was getting more efficient as well. His PER has shot up from 14.1 to 17.9 and is now at 21.5. If there certainly is a fountain of youth on earth, Asi Taulava knows where it is.
On the Roosters,Taulava will be their heart and soul. He is their only player who is playing a heavy load of minutes while still being able to score (46.3 eFG%) and rebound (17.0 TRB%) efficiently. He might be getting a bit slow on defense (101.2 DefRTG, Highest among the Roosters inside players) but that is an area that the other players might be able to cover.
Eric “Major Pain” Menk (40 Years Old), Power Forward
Taulava and Menk clashed in one of the best rivalries of the late 90’s. Seeing that both are still playing today, it would be a nice inside tandem for the “Roosters”. Though Menk is no longer the primary option of his current team, the Alaska Aces, he has done exceptionally well in a back up role for Sonny Thoss, regardless of age.
Menk was a large part of the success that the Aces enjoyed during the Philippine Cup, when his 6’6″ frame was able to bang with the Filipino bigs and grabbed a nice share of rebounds at 17.9 TRB%. He played an average of 19.8 minutes per game and had a 20.3 PER, being only one of 5 players over 35 years old to record at least 20 PER in that conference.
Menk’s production would go down in the latter two conferences (From 20.3 PER to 9.8 PER to 12.5 PER) as would his court time (From 19.8 MPG to 12.3 MPG to 10.7 MPG), possibly because the teams brought in bigger imports who operated inside for most of the time.
Remember though that Menk is 40 years old. The fact that he can keep up with all of their guys for about 10 minutes per game and hold his ground is remarkable.
I doubt that I would be able to climb a tall flight of stairs at the age of 40 with having to take a 5 minute timeout.
Chico Lanete (35 Years Old), Point Guard
The Barako Bull Energy have been going through a nice Governor’s Cup campaign, where they are sitting at 3rd place in the table. A lot of credit could be given to the reinforcements (Dylan Ababou, Joseph Yeo, and Liam McMorrow) but some of that praise should also be sent to the mainstays of this team, JC Intal and Chico Lanete. Chico has played well at the point guard for the Barako Bull. For the past Philippine, Commissioner’s, and Governor’s Cups, Chico has been averaging 20.2 MPG, 29.7 MPG and 20.6 MPG, respectively. He has also posted 20.4 PER, 14.6 PER, and 16.9 PER.
Those stats makes him one of the only seven in the Over-35 pool to average at least 20 minutes in all 3 conferences. He is also one of two in the Over-35 pool to post no less than 14.0 PER in each of the 3 conferences as well.
In a league filled with faster and younger point guards, Chico has adapted well to survive and survive admirably and will be a solid option as the Starting Point Guard for the Roosters.
Gary “El Granada” David (36 Years Old), Shooting Guard
David has slowed down, as all scorers usually do, during the past three years. His scoring has dropped slowly since 2012 from 18.8 PPG to 15.8 PPG to 13.3 PPG in 2015. Where David has lessened in scoring output, he has filled the void by passing the ball more efficiently (12.8 AST%) and better defence (1.1 STL%).
On a Meralco Bolts team that so dearly needs a consistent scoring option, David has turned back the clock from time to time to provide that outburst for them. He has been quite disappointing in the Governor’s Cup (9.3 PER) but his performance from the past two conferences (14.1 PER in Philippine Cup, 19.4 PER in Commissioner’s Cup) indicates that El Granada can still explode.
Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros (38 Years Old), Small Forward
It is rare for a perimeter player to rediscover his game at such a late stage of his career, but that’s exactly what The Cebuena Hotshot has done at 38 years old. And you say an Old Dog Can’t Learn New Tricks.
Despite starting only 2 games this season (dropping from 15 games in the 2013-2014 season), Dondon has seen his PER more than double (from 5.8 to 12.7) and various evidence of improvement on his perimeter game. His eFG% shot up from 37.3% to 50.7%. His AST% went from 9.0% to 10.6% and his TOV% dropped from 11.5% to 9.6%. His offensive rating exploded from 83.0 to 108.0 in this season.
All of this is going on while he has been averaging more shots. It could be a result of Dondon being a better fit in Alex Compton’s system, but being able to do so at 38 is still very impressive.
Back-up Inside Players
John Ferriols (41 Years Old), Power Forward
He’s turning 41 years old this coming September, but Ferriols can still play. He’s not playing heavy minutes, even though the 10.4 MPG he’s averaging now for the Meralco Bolts is about twice as much he played in the 2 prior seasons. In those limited minutes, Ferriols has produced results. He’s still scoring at an effective 52.2 eFG% and turning the ball over at only 9.7 TOV%. That results in him being only one of five players in our Over-35 list to have logged at least 10.0 PER in each of the past three conferences (16.3 PER, 11.0 PER, 16.6 PER, respectively).
Rafi Reavis (37 Years Old), Center
Reavis might seem to get lost in the star-studded line up of the Hotshot Star team, but even at his age, he is still a very valuable player for Tim Cone. He’s been averaging only 13.0 MPG this season, but as the same case as John Ferriols above, he’s also been able to record at least 10.0 PER in each of the last three conferences as well (11.7 PER,16.2 PER, 17.2 PER). Reavis is still consistently among the top rebounders of the PBA, at a 15.3 TRB% clip this season along with being one of the best shot blockers (4.2 BLK%). He might not be the focal point of the offense, but when he gets his chances, he finishes them well. He is currently shooting an eFG% of 56.5 for the season and has been shooting at least 60 eFG% for the past two conferences.
With Ferriols, Menk, and Taulava all in their forties, it is kind of weird to say that Rafi Reavis will be this teams jolt of “youth” inside at only 37 years of age.
Back-up Perimeter Players
Mark “The Spark” Caguioa (35 Years Old), Shooting Guard
Caguioa’s heyday is way past him and it is commonly joked that he is due for his retirement, but don’t let those rumours make you think that Caguioa is just an old guy fighting with Father Time. Caguioa is still scoring at the same rate (his eFG of the past three seasons have been 44.4, 43.3, and 44.6, respectively) but he’s just doing so in less playing time for Ginebra. His assist rate has dropped and his turnover rate has increased since 2012 (causing his PER to drop from 17.6 to 12.6) but he, along with Chico Lanete, are the only two backcourt players at least 35 years old that have recorded at least 10.0 PER in the past 3 conferences.
Peter June Simon (35 Years Old), Shooting Guard
The Hotshot Star shooting guard would have been a clear-cut for a starting position on this team had it not been for this horrendous Governor’s Cup campaign. Simon started off well this season with a PER of 17.2 in the Philippine Cup and 15.0 in the Commissioner’s Cup, but it has been a steep fall all the way down to 6.2 in this conference. His eFG has plummeted to 43.6 eFG% from 49.2 and 56.8 eFG%, respectively. His turnover rate shot up to 16.3 TOV% as well. After two conferences where he had an offensive rating of 101.3 and 110.3, he bottomed out at 81.1 in the Governor’s Cup.
It probably is just a bad break for PJ Simon right now, but it’s enough to cost him a starting position on this imaginary team.
Cyrus “Skyrus” Baguio (35 Years Old), Small Forward
While PJ Simon has been struggling in the latter part of the season, Skyrus has already been through his struggles early on and is now thriving.
Maybe Baguio didn’t adapt to the coaching change to Alex Compton as quickly as Dondon did, so he spent the Philippine Cup scoring at a very poor 31.3 eFG% rate. He would record a 7.6 PER in that conference. Since then, he has been scoring better (48.4 eFG% followed by 50.0 eFG% in the Governor’s Cup) and passing better (AST% from 9.3% to 13.8% to 20.1%). The Alaska Ace’s offense has flourished with him as he has increased his Offensive Rating from 78.6 to 93.7 to 104.3.
Similar to Simon, if he had a better outing in the Philippines Cup, the starting wing position would have been much harder to conclude.
Willie Miller (37 Years Old), Point Guard
In his return to the PBA after sitting out the Philippine Cup without a team, Willie Miller was picked up by Talk N’ Text in the Commissioner’s Cup and he was able to contribute to the eventual conference Champions immediately. The former two-time MVP was never really a good scorer, with a compiled 44.9 eFG% since 2012, but his strong suit is his passing. After getting a conference to figure his team mates and team system out (with a 17.3 AST%) he has been assisting at a ridiculous 32.7 AST% in the Governor’s Cup, which is currently 1st in the PBA among players playing over 10.0 Minutes per Game.
Now if only he could get Talk N’ Text out of this Championship Hangover…
Leo Avenido (37 Years Old) Shooting Guard
I am including Leo into this list because:
- I got to watch Leo Avenido score the ABL 2014’s highest scoring output of 38 points live from courtside at Vietnam. It was against lesser opponents than that you would see in the PBA for sure, but I loved Leo Avenido in Heat Check mode.
- Shortly after that ABL Season ended, Avenido would sign with KIA Carnival. He would score 9 points in his debut as KIA took down reigning Champions San Miguel Beermen. At that time, it seemed like quite a big deal to me.
Avenido deserves to be on this line up because of that Flash in a Pan conference performance. He came out of nowhere to play 9 games, average 20.5 minutes per game, score at an insane 66.7 eFG% (3rd in the conference) and post a 117.7 Offensive Rating (7th in the conference). He seems to have dropped out of KIA’s rotation in the Governor’s Cup, but what a hell of a run that was in the Commissioner’s Cup.
So there you have it. The 12 man roster of “The Roosters”, an All-Star team consisting of active PBA players who are at least 35 years old.
How well would this team fare against the teams of the PBA?
Would they play better in a game played only for 20 minutes to better suit their stamina?
Who else do you think shouldn’t have made the team or who do you think missed the cut?