Revealing ten of the best Filipino basketball players of all time

Former NBA Champion Kyrie Irving once stated that ‘Everybody in the NBA is good. And then you have the really good ones and the great ones.’

The NBA is a globally popular sport. Reserved for the best of the best, the league is now littered with stars from all over the globe.

Although small in size, one country that simply loves their basketball is the Philippines, and throughout the decades the country has produced several star players and coaches.

Regarded as some of the most popular sportsmen in the country, there are plenty of players in the Philippines who have gone on to achieve great things as players, coaches and even in the case of Dondon Hontiveros stand for high office.

Although a player born on the islands has yet to play in the NBA, it’s surely only a matter of time before that record is changed.

Famous basketball players in the Philippines

Read on to discover ten of the best players that the Philippines has ever produced.

1. Jalen Green

Although Jalen Green was born in California, he is the third player of Filipino descent to make it to the NBA level.

Selected by the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Draft, Green settled into life in the NBA well and was voted into the NBA All-Rookie Team in his rookie campaign.

Having established himself as one of the brightest talents in the league, many are hoping that Green can help push the Rockets to new heights.

2. Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson was the second player of Filipino descent to play in the NBA. Drafted 46th in the 2014 NBA Draft by the LA Lakers, Clarkson has enjoyed a successful career in the league and now plies his trade for the Utah Jazz.

Making the transition from college to the NBA with ease, Clarkson was named in the 2015 NBA All-Rookie team and after a successful season with the Jazz was nominated as the Sixth Man of the Year back in 2021

Despite being born in America, Clarkson has always been proud of his Filipino heritage and has represented the home of his ancestors in the 2018 Asian Cup and 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Back in October 2021, Clarkson and Jalen Green became the first players of Filipino descent to play against each other in an NBA game.

3. Raymond Townsend

Raymond Townsend will forever hold a place in Filipino basketball history as he was the first player of Filipino descent to play professionally in the NBA.

Playing for both the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers, he finished his career with 745 points. Although not the greatest to have ever played the game, he paved the ways for others to follow in his footsteps.

4. James Yap

James Yap is one of the greatest players ever produced by the Philippines. A seven time Philippine Basketball Association Champion, he is also a 4 x MVP finalist and seventeen time All-Star.

Small fact: Having made well over 700 career starts he has averaged 14.8 points per game over the course of his career and is one of the countries most loved players.

One of only a few current active players who have made this list, Yap is often battling it out for individual league honours with other greats such as Japeth Aguilar, Marc Pingris, Terrence Romeo, Scottie Thompson, Gabe Norwood and Chris Ross.

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5. JuneMar Fajardo

JuneMar Fajardo is one of the most dominant basketball players on our list of Filipino greats.

Standing at 6’10 and weighing well over 250 pounds, Fajardo won six consecutive MVP titles between 2014 and 2019.

A ten time PBA Champion, Fajardo averages over 17.5 points per game and despite being in the twilight of his career is one of the country’s best ever players.

6. Allan Caidac

There have been a huge amount of players who have been successful as both players and coaches. Bong Ravena, LA Tenorio, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Joe Devance and Donbel Belano are just a few examples but it was Allan Caidac who led the way.

Making his first professional appearance back in 1984 he went onto win five PBA titles.

Known as a devastating three point shooter, he converted 1,242 three point shots across the course of his career. A huge part of the Philippines 1985 Asia Cup victory, he has won two PBA titles as a coach.

7. Johnny Abarrientos

Johnny Abarrientos is another Filipino basketball great that has enjoyed great success as both a player and a coach.

A fact: A winner of twelve PBA Championships, he also earned PBA All-Star status on seven separate occasions.

Knowing what it takes to win a championship, he has played a vital role in coaching teams to six further PBA Championships.

Throughout the course of his career he averaged over 11 points per game and was once signed by the Charlotte Hornets.

8. Benjie Paras

Benjie Paras is one of the greatest players ever produced in the Philippines. He made history when becoming the first player in PBA history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP Honours in the same season.

After his historic first season he went onto win four PBA Championships and was twice voted the league’s MVP.

One of his greatest successes came when he helped play a huge part in the Philippines squad that won the silver medal at the 1990 Asian Games. Under the expert guidance of Robert Jaworski, the team was considered as one of the best that the Philippines has ever produced.

9. Jimmy Alapag

Jimmy Alapag was a fantastic player that has gone onto have a coaching career in the NBA.

As a player he was a six-time PBA champion, and was also voted as the PBA’s Finals Most Valuable Player on two occasions.

He is now an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings and will hope to bring all of his experience playing in the Philippines to one of the NBA’s most promising franchises.

10. Pauliasi Taulava

Pauliasi Taulava was one of the best to ever play for the Philippines. Surprisingly just a PBA Champion on one occasion, he has earned All-star honors on no less than seventeen different occasions.

One of the best defensive players the country has ever produced, his glittering career came to an end in 2023.

The future looks bright for Filipino NBA players

Kobe Bryant once said, ‘The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do’ and that has certainly proved to be the case with our list of Filipino basketball players.

With the likes of Jalen Green and Jordan Clarkson showing what players from the Philippines can achieve in the professional game, the future of Filipino basketball looks promising.

There is a huge amount of wealth and experience on the islands and it won’t be a surprise to see the first player born on the island play in the NBA very soon.