In the PBA, or any league for that matter, there are players that are more celebrated than the rest of the pack. These are the stars of the league. Their mere presence can ignite a crowd into a frenzy. They are revered by basketball fans mostly because of their talents and skills that are on full display, game in and game out. Casual basketball fans on the other hand, are drawn to them because of their natural charisma. In the PBA, we know them as James Yap (the so-called face of the PBA), Mark Caguioa, Paul Lee, Jayson Castro, JuneMar Fajardo, and the fast-rising star of Terrence Romeo.

On the flip-side, there are other players who can also ignite a crowd into a frenzy – but in a negative way. Instead of “oohs” and “ahhs,” they are welcomed most of the time by “boos” from the crowd. If basketball stars are adored, these players are despised and hated by many fans (of the opposing teams of course). These players receive so much hate primarily because of their on-court antics. They are pretty good at playing rugged (some fans would call it dirty) and physical basketball that it annoys not only their opponents but also people from the stands as well. They are great trash talkers that would try to get with another player’s head to get them out of the game – mautak, wais pero nakakaasar.

They receive so much hate that aside from player-player skirmishes, there were instances of fan altercation and sometimes, water bottle and coin throwing inside the playing venue. But as much as they’re hated by others, fans of respective ball clubs love these players; I bet you would too if they’re on your side.

So, do you know any of these players I’m talking about? Are you ready to get to know their game a little bit better? Let’s begin!

4. Mark Cardona

Captain Hook: Mark Cardona (Photo Credit: Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images)

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: on-court antics, great trash talker, and that very awkward floater in his arsenal. (Photo Credit: Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images)


Basically, what Cardona brings to the table is his scoring ability; he’s proven it in the UAAP and he brought it in the PBA as well. Once, he scored a career-high of 42 points (with Talk N’ Text) and was tagged as the Best Player of the Conference during the 2007 Fiesta Conference.

But through the years, Cardona has been with three (or two) other teams in Meralco and A21/NLEX. Although he’s not as explosive as before, Cardona can still keep up with the younger guards in the league today. As a matter of fact, he was able to finish fifth in scoring (16.5 PPG) in this year’s Philippine Cup. Also, at his size, he’s a pretty decent rebounder (averaging 5.0 rebounds per game this season).

Mark Cardona Career (Advanced)

Another thing worth of note in Cardona’s game is his shooting percentage. Early in his career, he would throw a lot of wild shots here and there but looking at the numbers, it seems that he’s already improved his shot selection. Last conference, he ranked third (among the locals) in terms of eFG% with 55.2 percent (only behind Ranidel De Ocampo – 57.3 percent and Leo Avenido – 66.7 percent).

If you want a guy that could be an instant offense off the bench, Mac-Mac is your guy.

3. Cliff Hodge

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: His endless energy on the court is often misunderstood. (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5)

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: His endless energy on the court is often misunderstood. (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5)


Cliff Hodge was known to be a very raw player when he entered the league back in 2012. But due to his potential, Hodge was still picked at number 4 only behind June Mar Fajardo, Calvin Abueva, and Alex Mallari. Looking at his game now, Meralco’s trust in picking him at 4th back in 2012 is starting to pay off. Now on his third year in the league, Cliff Hodge continues to develop his game and is slowly becoming one of the key pieces for Coach Norman Black’s system.

Cliff Hodge Career (Per Game)

Although his numbers dipped quite a bit last conference, he had an on-court net rating of +4.0. And whenever he’s out, the Bolts allow 5.7 more points to the other teams. Also, in the five lineups that produced a net-positive rating for Meralco last conference, Cliff Hodge was present. Meralco’s best line-up last conference include: Josh Davis, Mike Cortez, John Wilson, Reynel Hugnatan, and Cliff Hodge with a net rating of +75.0

Hodge hustle every game is a given if you have him on your team. And now, he’s become even more valuable to Meralco (or to any team for that matter) with an improved outside shot.

If you want an energy guy both on offense and on defense (like a mini Rudy Hatfield), Cliff is your guy.

2. Beau Belga

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: He loves Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" and D-Generation X! (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Sports)

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: He loves Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” and D-Generation X! (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Sports)


One thing you’ll love about Beau Belga being in your team is that your favorite players will be spared from the bone-crushing picks and hard fouls he gives every game. But kidding aside, there’s more to big Beau’s game other than being physical and giving up hard fouls.

Beau Belga Career (Per Game)

In my opinion, one reason that Coach Yeng really loves Belga is because of his basketball IQ. You may be deceived by his size but big Beau’s got the moves. He can fool you with that shot fake, then step in with two slow dribbles and find that open guy under the rim or in the corners for a three-point shot. Aside from creating for his teammates, Belga can also hit the occasional three-point shot. Although right now, he’s struggling from deep, he once averaged 40 percent from the three-point line during the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup.

So, if you want a versatile big man who could bang bodies inside and could hit from outside, Big Beau is your guy.

1. Calvin Abueva

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: Calvin Abueva, need we say more? (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5)

WHY YOU LOVE TO HATE HIM: Calvin Abueva, need we say more? (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5)


Tell me, who wouldn’t want “The Beast” on their team? By now, everybody knows what this guy can do.

Fresh from an insane (stats wise) last year in the NCAA, Abueva took the league by storm during his rookie year and was even included in the MVP discussion. In the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup (rookie year), only 2 players were able to average a double-double (PTS and REBS): Arwind Santos and Calvin Abueva. Aside from that, he was able to average a PER of 27.8 (2nd) and a defensive rating of 85.2 (best in the league).

Calvin Abueva Career (Per Game)

Although he had a forgettable sophomore season, Calvin Abueva is back to his beastly (in a good way, of course) ways in the court. He started out this season with another double-double average in the Philippine Cup: 17.4 PPG (2nd) and 13.0 RPG (1st). He was also one of the most efficient players with a 29.5 PER (3rd) and the highest defensive rating (82.7).

Looking at the stats, it can be said that Abueva’s performance is not consistent all throughout the season. During the 2nd and 3rd conference, we see a dip in his point-production as well as in his rebounding; which can be explained by the presence of the imports. But it’s undeniable that when it comes to an All-Filipino conference, Abueva really is “The Beast”.

With that said, if you want a rebounding demon, an efficient scorer and a guy who will do whatever it takes for the W, Calvin is your guy.

Of Villains and Heroes

I wrote this not because I want to defend these guys from all the critics out there. I also did not write this because I want them to be adored and loved by the fans. I wrote this for everyone to appreciate what they’ve been doing for their respective teams. Simply put, I wrote this because I wanted fans to respect their game – give the respect these on-court villains deserve.

They may be villains in the eyes of many PBA fans. I’m pretty sure these guys don’t mind this (I believe they actually love it most of the time).  What’s important for them is playing for the name in front of their jerseys. They do everything on the court, whatever it takes just to get those wins. Because of this, these players considered by many to be villains, are heroes for their respective ball clubs.

P.S. Remember, the PBA is just a small community, who knows, you might be cheering for these guys in the near future.

Featured Image Credit: Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images; Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5; KC Cruz, GMA Sports (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)