Case for PBA’s 50 Greatest: It’s time to consider the Crunch Man

If there was only one word we can use to describe Alex Cabagnot, it would probably be “steady.”

He is the steady leader of the most dominant team in the PBA today. His calm demeanor allows him to perform in the most high-pressure situations, thus his nickname “The Crunch Man.” He is rarely flashy, but he gets the job done. There is a saying that “Steady does it” – Has Alex Cabagnot’s steady play been enough to include him in the PBA’s 50 Greatest Players? Let’s take a look.

Alex Cabagnot was drafted second overall by the now-defunct Sta. Lucia Realtors in the 2005 PBA draft. He finished his first season leading all rookies in points, assists, steals, and minutes. Cabagnot was traded to the Coca-Cola Tigers – another franchise no longer in the PBA – in the middle of the 2006-2007 season. The UH Hilo product spent two largely unspectacular years with the Tigers before being traded to the Burger King Whoppers.

After playing in just a few games for the Whoppers, Cabagnot was traded once again, this time to the San Miguel Beermen. Cabagnot still plays for the Beermen today, but it is easy to forget that he was traded to the Globalport Batang Pier in 2013 before being traded back to San Miguel the following season. No matter where he played, Cabagnot’s level of play was always consistent, but it is his contributions to the winning culture in San Miguel that has propelled his case as one of the best players, let alone point guards, in the game.

At 35 years old, the 6’0″ point guard is showing no signs of slowing down. He just had the best individual season of his career in 2016-2017, wherein he averaged 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. His stellar play for the season earned him a Finals MVP during the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup and his first Mythical First Team selection. He has also just helped the Beermen win their 4th straight Philippine Cup championship.

For his career, Cabagnot is a 5x all-star, an all-star game MVP (2016), a 2x Mythical Second Team member, a 1x Mythical First Team member, and a 7x champion. It is safe to say that quite a few more accolades will be added to that list when he retires (which doesn’t seem to be anytime soon).

Due to his very steady, basic style of play, and due to the fact that he has never played for the national team, it is easy to overlook Cabagnot when thinking of the best point guards in the PBA today. Names like Jayson Castro, L.A. Tenorio, Paul Lee, and Terrence Romeo are the first names often brought up when discussing the topic. And although the current San Miguel core of JuneMar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot is already being put in discussions as one of the best starting units in PBA history, Cabagnot’s name also gets overshadowed by Fajardo (already in the discussion as one of the greatest ever), Arwind Santos (a former MVP and one of the most polarizing players in the PBA), and maybe even Lassiter (considered as the best shooter in the PBA today).

At the end of the day, however, no one can refute that fact that Alex Cabagnot is one of the most accomplished point guards in recent history, and it would be a shame if he is still overlooked in the consideration of the 50 Greatest PBA Players in history.