Sydman's 15 Worst Fil-Ams in the PBA... ever!

Instant money and instant fame were for the Fil-Ams to take during the late 90’s and the early 2000’s. That is why US-based agents are searching high and low for players that can become the threshold of Philippine basketball’s future.

Some players arrived in the country and made famous of their arsenals in the PBL. Eric Menk, Ali Peek, Jay Washington, Joe DeVance, and Asi Taulava are prime examples of how they used the PBL to showcase their skills. Some used the MBA as a stepping-stone with Rudy Hatfield and Jayjay Helterbrand as classic examples.

And then there were the guys that were virtual unknowns that became instant stars. Mark Caguioa is the best example. He came in... raised hell... and set the bar for virtual unknowns to do awesome things in the league. And all of a sudden there were various “Caguioa” clones in the league like Brandon Cablay, and Alex Cabagnot. John Arigo, who is not a Caguioa clone, was said to be the Pinoy version of Reggie Miller. Until his weaknesses were pointed out, he was one of the league’s most feared scorers.

Visiting various fan sites and forums, I saw how people are angry at Andy Seigle, Nic Belasco, Noy Castillo, and even Tony dela Cruz. Tony dela Cruz and Nic Belasco started out poor but they managed to have serviceable careers. Both players played for the Philippine Team and are proven offense/defense stars. Noy Castillo? Blame the Pinoy style of basketball for his inability to shine properly. In the 2000’s, pure shooters have been treated poorly. Combo guards are the thing these days. As for Andy Seigle, injuries slowed him down but I believed he played good despite his injuries and lack of quickness.

We call them busts because we see them play and we hate how they deliver. Sure we remember “these” busts but let’s also think hard on those busts we don’t remember. Fact is, during the early 2000’s where the Fil-Am lockdown happened, there a ton of Fil-Ams… and Fil-Shams trying to get the posts intended for actual Pinoys. All of a sudden, there are a ton of US-based ballers and 40 percent of them can’t even hang against third stringers!

If you look at the various PBA drafts of the 2000’s there are a lot of undrafted Fil-Am players. These are the players people thought would be the mysteries that would all of a sudden take Pinoy basketball by storm.

We call this phenomenon “The Mark Caguioa Experience”.


The guys listed below weren’t or hasn’t played in the PBA as of 2009. This means you can forget about trying to find Chris Timberlake, Don Dulay, Mike Holper, Kevin White, Chris Pacana, Brandon Lee Cablay, Mike Hrabak, and Charles Waters. Maybe Shawn Weinstein can be on the list… but hopefully he’ll do well.

I only think the players in the list will have a hard time proving us wrong because they are either too old or too weak.

Also, I took out the Amerasians so I don’t think you’ll see Jeffrey Graves, Philip Newton, and Jeffrey Sanders in the list. Jeffrey Graves… I like this former San Miguel/Pepsi power forward but I don’t know if he’s an Am-Boy or a Gapo-Boy. I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt. As for Frederick Adams, a PBA player who played from 1980 to 1981, he wasn’t part of the list because I don’t have much info on him. Maybe he is an Amerasian. Tell me so I can know.

By the way, European players with Pinoy blood are also in the list. Chinese blood? That is so common in the Philippines so I’ll resist the thought.

The players seen in the list were taken from obscurity. Rich Alvarez, Carlo Sharma, and EJ Feihl are Fil-Foreigners but because they were popular UAAP/NCAA stars, they are not included in this list.

The list is for PBA players only. Although, I also did research on MBA Fil-Ams.

And no, I am not inventing names.


MBA had laxer rules compared to the PBA in terms of citizenship. That is why Alex Compton and Chris Clay were considered Fil-Ams in the MBA but was ruled as ineligible when they donned PBA jerseys. Aside from Clay, the Laguna Lakers also had Jeffrey Flowers and Troy Daniels. Aside from Compton, the Manila Metrostars also had August Brown. Sunny Margate and John DuMont played for the Pasig Blue Pirates. Cid White played for the Manila Metrostars, Nueva Ejica Patriots, Davao Eagles, and Negros Slashers where Fil-Canadian Dean Labayen also played. Cebu Gems had Chris Mendoza and Matt Mitchell who gained notoriety for acting like a dick when the Philippine National anthem was played. Davao also had Christopher LaFontaine. Iloilo Megavoltz had Fort Payne. Jay Magat, Eulo Regala, and Lenny Reyes were journeymen. Jallah Smith played for the Socsargen Marlins. Batangas Blades featured Will Antonio’s brother and former Alaska second round draftee, Stephen.

Among the players listed I think Labayen, Mitchell, and Flowers would have done well in the league. Flowers’ height and build should attract a lot of teams to claim him. Labayen looks like a smart player to cultivate in the PG spot while Mitchell had the swagger to become a beast in the league.

But they didn’t.

If you know these guys, then lucky you.

Moving on…

The 15 Worst Fil-Ams I remember are now here!

15 ROB DUAT – During his stint in PBL’s Chowking, he played forward-center. When he played in the MBA and the PBA, he drifted to guard-forward. He had a worthy career in the PBA and a hot GF in Daisy Reyes. There was a time when he played point guard for Tim Cone during his stint with Alaska. He started his PBA career with San Miguel, then Alaska, before ending his career in Red Bull. Gay people know him from all the butt shots he had floating around the net. I almost made him number one because of those pics!!!

14 ROMMEL SANTOS – He never had the body to become an explosive high flyer but he always had an accurate outside shot. He has Ryan Buenafe’s body but lacks athleticism. He also had a shot to become Shell’s top off-guard but the fact that he was often injured and had low defensive skills made him a liability in defense. He last played for Tanduay but was out of the league when the Rhum Masters changed kits to become the FedEx Express.

13 JAMES WALKVIST – If you believed for a sec that Walkvist was more of a role player then you’re naïve. He played for San Juan, Alaska, and Ginebra where he was a key role player. A key role player… that’s the keyword! One thing you got to love about him is that he is pretty coachable and has a decent outside shot. He also has a great feel for the game and he will do the things he can to win the game even if that “thing” is extremely limited. One thing you don’t need to expect in his game is to score 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He has a lot of championship rings too.

12 KELANI FERRERIA – Sure, the guy also exposed something… but being the leading man in an Aubrey Miles movie (Xerex) isn’t by any means “lady-like”. With that said, he can’t seem to get lucky as a PBA superstar. His looks barely found him fanfare. His back tattoo barely made people intimidated by him. And most importantly, he bounced from team to team and only norms 2ppg, 2rpg, and 2apg (I’m just being kind in the stats). Chris Pacana is unfortunately his play alike (too bad he is still active).

11 JON ORDONIO – Poor guy. He was part of the first direct-hire Fil-Ams the PBA used to counter MBA’s amateur talent raiding. His name was spoken alongside Asi Taulava, Danny Seigle, and Eric Menk. However, the Kobe look-a-like failed to wow crowds and his inability to be consistent in scoring and playmaking brought his stock down. He played for Pop, Alaska, and Red Bull until he was booted out of the country… at the peak of the Fil-Am witch hunt.

10 KENNY EVANS – He started out as a Cebu Gem and he played briefly for the squad. He resurfaced as Alaska’s second round pick. The glass ceiling in Alaska was so unreachable that if Evans wants to succeed, he needs to branch out. And that he did when he joined Talk N Text. Seizing the opportunity in a team filled with injured stars, he became the combo guard they needed. Unfortunately for him, he thought he was a star so he asked for a hefty pay the TNT officials were not ready to give. In the end, instead of having a huge payday, Evans lingered in the minor leagues before disappearing.

9 MIGS NOBLE – Alaska could have gotten Renren Ritualo in the 2002 Draft. Hell, Alaska could have selected the likes of Gilbert Lao, Jason Misolas, Aris Dimaunahan, or Celino Cruz in the list but instead they picked the forward from Utica College. Noble wasn’t a scorer but he was an extra hand to work with in terms of rebounds. From Alaska he moved to San Miguel, Ginebra and then Red Bull. What sucks though was he disappeared from spotlight. While channel surfing I noticed him wearing a TNT uniform standing near a huddle. I saw him for almost two seasons! All of a sudden, this valuable Fil-Am was never needed!

8 EUGENE TEJADA – Before you hate me, rest assured that I was one of those guys that was happy when he found himself as a Purefoods player. Fact is, Alaska had too many Fil-Ams working for them when he was picked fifteenth in the 2003 Draft. His career was about to take off as a hard-nosed defender in the Giants camp when a career-ending injury derailed that chance. I hear he’s doing fine right now. Good for him.

7 DENVER LOPEZ – The popularity of drawing another Mark Caguioa happened when Red Bull decided to use their sixth pick on this guy. I’ve picked on him heavily since the start of my sports blog writing life so I will stop here. If he has a hot wife, I’ll push him back to tenth place.

6 ROB JOHNSON – Picked on the third round in 2003, it seems that Johnson’s ICTSI PBL stint didn’t do much for his stock. He was fun to watch though. He was also very fan-friendly and isn’t camera shy at all. His curly locks and ultra-muscular frame makes him more of a defensive tackle than a point guard. I interviewed him during my time as a copywriter in Channel 4 and his impromptu “Talaga, talaga” phrase became an accidental tag line for the network’s PBA broadcast. Unfortunately for him, he only had two seasons of PBA and if people trusted him, he could have had more.

5 KAHI VILLA – He was also another third round pick in the 2003 Draft. He played for the TNT Phone Pals where he was a seldom-used option in the power forward spot. Looking at him though, he had the vibe and feel to become a superstar. He is built like Ali Peek he looks like a shaved Harvey Carey. Too bad he lacked the skills of both. After two bench-warming seasons, the BYU-Hawaii standout decided to return back to the States.

4 KIM VALENZUELA – He played for the PBL’s Magnolia Wizards squad AFTER his stint with the Baranggay Ginebra Kings. Picked thirteen by Sta. Lucia, he was traded to Ginebra. If he stuck with the Realtors then maybe he’ll have a better showing. But being a rookie at a guard-heavy squad was hell for Valenzuela. It didn’t help that when he plays, he plays extremely tentative and lacks the Fil-Am swagger most Fil-Foreigners have. This was one of the reasons why his PBA career was short and uneventful.

3 DAVID FRIEDHOF – The guy had an MBA career and he managed to join the Tanduay squad and was absorbed by the FedEx squad. The former 2001 fifth round pick by the Rhum Masters displayed defensive savvy. However in two seasons, it was certain that Friedhof would at best be just a third-string player at best. Another reason why he stuck was because Derrick Pumaren likes him so much that when he was carry-over from Tanduay to be FedEx’ coach, he was retained alongside Dindo Pumaren.

2 DENNIS HARRISON – It seems to be that the guy never really wanted to play pro ball in the Philippines. I remember the first time I saw him dribble for Shell. It felt like I was watching a pickup game. Unlike Rob Johnson who was a showboat that was also adamant to succeed, he just wants to look good on cam. For a minute, I think he was probably trying to land a modelling gig in the Philippines! He played for two seasons in the PBA. After his rookie year in Shell in 1999, he played for Pop Cola in 2000. Harrison was indeed the poster boy… for Fil-Ams that were trying to loot thousands of Pesos in the Philippines by parading their weak basketball skills! Sure, being a Fil-Am has its perks… but a Fil-Am should also be an exceptional player to stand out. He moved back to Hawaii, as if nothing happened.

1 STEVEN SMITH – Not to be mistaken from the NBA player that played for Miami, Atlanta, Portland, and San Antonio, this Smith was the biggest bust in my book. I hate him for three big time reasons. While he was an old rookie at 29 (or even higher), he tried his luck in the PBA and succeeded. He was drafted eighth by Ginebra in the 1998 Draft where Danny Ildefonso was picked first, Noy Castillo was second, Ali Peek was third and Brix Encarnacion, Banjo Calpito and Henry Fernandez were part of the first round. He was a 6’4 guard-forward who seems to have a rugged way of playing hoops. Before Danny Seigle wore 42 for the Beermen, he was the team’s player number 42.

Like I said, there are three reasons why I hate this guy:

Reason # 1: Smith was traded to San Miguel for Allan Caidic. Caidic has been a part of SMB since Sta. Lucia replaced Presto Tivoli. At this point, Caidic has been injury prone but his awesomeness was still there. Caidic playing alongside the powerhouse group of Marlou Aquino, Noli Locsin, Vince Hizon, Bal David, Pido Jarencio, Jayvee Gayoso, Wilmer Ong, Benny Cheng, and Dodot Jaworski would have been great for the Gin Kings… but it wasn’t.

Reason # 2: The reason why Ginebra picked eighth was because Sonny Jaworski and his boys had an awesome 1997 season. At that point, the “sister teams” tag doesn’t mean that SMB and Ginebra scheme to take over the PBA land. In actuality, they hated each other and they are trying to outdo each other. San Miguel was taking orders from SMC and Ginebra was telling people that they were from the La Tondena Franchise. Back then, there were no conduits because when SMB and Ginebra trade, it suits both parties properly. But in this case, it seems that this trade started the San Miguel Corporation “Cooperation” regarding player and personnel movements. The Big J didn’t want anything regarding this though. Jaworski was livid because he was not informed that Caidic will join the team. Jaworski and Caidic figured in one controversial event where Caidic dropped head-first on the floor and Jaworski was appearing as insensitive and uncaring. Jaworski threatened to quit and eventually filed a permanent “leave of absence” as coach of the Gin Kings. Afterwards, the Kings started to go downhill with the Ginebra core that Jaworski built getting destroyed. Rino Salazar would take over before handing the coaching chores to “playing coach” Caidic.

Reason # 3: With the impact that this trade created, you have to expect something good from Smith, right? After a few games, Smith wanted out! SMITH WAS TRYING TO DITCH HIS WORK BECAUSE HE WAS FN HOMESICK!!! He was crying and asking people to help him go back to the States! DITCH THE CONTRACT AND SET ME FREE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO HEAR FROM A ROOKIE! At least Al Segova tried to better his output even if he had to flee because he was a Fil-Sham. Smith wanted to flee… accepting as the worst Fil-Am ever!

If you look at the PBA annals, I doubt if his name appears prominently or even appears there at all! Worse, his exit caused a lot of people to question whether or not he was a real Fil-Am and that wariness eventually became a nationwide matter!

He could have been the kicker of the whole Fil-Am controversy!

See what I did here? Emotional stability was the reason for my number one guy! It shouldn’t have happened but it did! And for the end of time Smith is my WORST FIL-AM EVER!

If you have a player you have in mind then feel free to tell it.

This is my list though.

My list. My rules.

But spoiler: Convince me otherwise, and I’ll consider your suggestion.

Game over.


  1. We can't include Rob Parker because he plays better than those fil-ams listed... But if you'll consider attitude, he should be here... Haha!

  2. parker was awesome. i pegged him better than seigle then because seigle was unorthodox.

    however, yeah... amongst the 98-02 fil-ams, he had the worst behavior.

  3. SYDMAN,

  4. Hello Mr Dean Labayen!

    I saw you play for the Negros Slashers. You played with Dorian Pena, Johnedel Cardel, and John Ferriols. Back then you could have had a great pba career since those were the days where guys like Dindo Pumaren, Gerry Esplana, and Jason Webb's skills were fading.

    such a shame about the shoulder. you could have been a jimmy alapag precursor.


    Thanks for the visit!

    Good luck with your current endeavors!