Best of the PBA | Jun Limpot




Purefoods jumpstarted my PBA worship back in the late 80s.

The rivalry of the FEU Tamaraws and DLSU Green Archers made me follow the UAAP. Back then, the UAAP is aired on PTV-4 via Silverstar Sports. Jimmy Javier and Joaqui Trillo annotated for the games. I never knew the awesomeness of Ateneo back then because I watched the games after the stints of Danny Francisco, Alex Araneta, and Jun Reyes.

The first rivalry I saw was Vic Pablo and Johnny Abarrientos taking on the crew led by Johnedel Cardel, Dwight Lago, Elmer Lago, Noli Locsin, Jonas Mariano, and this guy…

The Big Deal… Zandro “Jun” Limpot.

When 1992 hit, the Great Taste Coffee Makers have lost their luster. Known as Presto Tivoli, they never returned to the days when they almost won a grand slam… in two consecutive seasons.

So Great Taste decided to set their sights in other endeavors and bid the PBA adieu after six championships.

The franchise rights were then sold to PABL mainstay, the Sta. Lucia Realtors. 

Championships galore?

Not quite.

Sure, they have in their possession “The Triggerman” Allan Caidic, a one-time MVP whose deadly shooting accuracy gave him the moniker synonymous to a blood-thirsty assassin. However, Caidic wants to join his former Northern Consolidated Cement teammates in San Miguel. Also, they have a couple of young up and comers in their squad like Vergel Meneses, Bong Hawkins, Zaldy Realubit, Gerry Esplana, and Apet Jao but it felt as if these players aren’t that keen to play for the Realtors.

They do have the right to pick first overall in the 1993 PBA Draft.

Even with the FEU guys, the consensus choice was Jun Limpot. The Main Man/Real Deal finished his UAAP career with two championships and three MVP titles. Limpot is also a two-time PBL MVP. He was basically our version of Christian Laettner when this guy was tearing it up for the Duke Blue Devils.  

So how did he fared?


YR
TEAM
GP
PPG
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
1993
SLR
55
20.6
8.1
2.3
0.6
1.6
1994
SLR
39
22.0
7.6
3.1
0.4
1.8
1995
SLR
48
19.8
6.5
1.8
0.6
1.2
1996
SLR
31
18.1
6.5
1.6
0.5
0.9
1997
SLR
55
20.3
6.8
2.6
0.6
0.7
1998
SLR
33
18.9
8.2
2.6
0.7
0.7
1999
SLR
38
15.5
7.3
2.0
0.7
0.8
2000
GIN
36
16.5
6.6
1.8
0.3
0.4
2001
GIN
52
16.0
6.2
2.4
0.5
0.7
2002
GIN
19
10.9
4.3
1.5
0.2
0.1
2003
GIN
31
15.5
5.6
1.1
0.3
0.3
04-05
PF
53
11.7
4.1
1.2
0.2
0.3
05-06
PF
42
6.1
2.2
0.3
0.2
0.2
06-07
PF
26
7.4
2.0
0.8
0.2
0.2

   
I am a fan of The Real Deal during his PABL days with Magnolia. I believe he teamed up with Dennis Espino back then and I can’t believe how their familiarity with each other didn’t translate when they both teamed up in the pros.

Looking back, when Limpot came in, Meneses, Hawkins, and Realubit were traded. I know Flying A is alright at third but had he went first and the Realtors remained intact, it would have been awesome to see The Aerial Voyager, The Hawk, and The Flying A in one team.

The thing about Limpot and Espino back then was their team was just shallow. I guess it also played a major role in his career because despite his individual numbers, Limpot never had a Mythical First Team selection and had only two Mythical Second Team picks. After Limpot and Espino were Romy Dela Rosa, Chris Jackson and Esplana and the rest of the team hardly gave their case. Jose “Boyet” Francisco did damage from deep and Andy De Guzman also showed his scoring prowess but all they could pull through are a string of third-place finishes. It didn’t help that most of their bench would jump to the MBA. The team could have scored an offensive option in the draft but Arnold Gamboa, Jason Webb, Gabby Cui, Long David and Banjo Calpito were more of second-string bangers more than anything.

It just dawned on me that they took a lot of big men (with the exception of Webb).

It would have been cool to see Limpot as a PG.

Hmmm…

Nonetheless, Limpot had a fantastic career for the Sta. Lucia Realtors. In his first six seasons, Limpot would never average less than 18 points a game and the one-two-punch of Limpot alongside The Menace is downright scary. In fact, Limpot and Espino were one of the twelve players to represent the country as the “Centennial Dream Team” during the 1998 Asian Games – edging out the likes of Jerry Codinera, Nelson Asaytono, and Benjie Paras (often-injured at that point) and barely beating Hawkins, who was Cone’s late scratch due to nagging injuries.

Limpot was involved in two great trades – one for one with Marlou Aquino that sent him to Ginebra and another straight swap with Andy Seigle which is why he retired in Purefoods. Limpot still did well with the Kings but it felt like the bright lights exposed his game. Like the person he replaced, fans thought Limpot hated the physical aspect of the game. Right now, the influx of Fil-Ams made the game hard for the “pure breeds” and either the big man would learn a mid shot or he would still barrel his way to the rim. Limpot was expected to replace The Skyscraper and his finesse game for whatever reason was heavily panned.

His game play also became the easy scapegoat as to why he is still title-less despite his stature.

And just like in Sta. Lucia, Ginebra finally won a title after trading Limpot for Seigle.  

Limpot won his first and only PBA championship as part of the Purefoods bench in the 2006 PBA Philippine Cup… 13 years after he debuted. After that season, he announced his retirement. Ryan Gregorio back then is notorious for benching 90s stars like Alvin Patrimonio, Rey Evangelista, and Noy Castillo and ditto for Limpot. Besides at this point, Kerby Raymundo and Marc Pingris are Gregorio’s chief inside operators.

But don’t lowball his legacy.

His shake and bake moves are top notch and while Abarrientos had the better career, Limpot is the right choice for the Realtors to jumpstart a franchise. With the numbers he’s putting, just imagine if Jason Webb was able to bring his offensive game in the PBA or what if the Realtors had a better import instead of bringing in Lambert Shell all of the time. Perhaps maybe things would have been better if Limpot and Espino were seen as equals because there was a time when The Menace would want out of Sta. Lucia because he wanted more playing time and a max salary just like what Limpot is getting.

And the dude ROCKED the number 72 as if it’s a number people usually see inside a basketball court.

Maybe he could have made the 50 Greatest Players of the PBA list.

END


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