Snubs from PBA’s 40 Greatest Players: Abe King

COMING into his 17th PBA season in 1993, Abe King expressed interest to join the Ginebra franchise. That would have been a reunion with his Toyota teammate and now Ginebra playing coach Robert Jaworski and a huge boost to their frontcourt manned by Sonny Cabatu and Manny Victorino.

But Alvin Patrimonio demanded the Purefoods franchise to acquire the big man at all costs. The reason? He would rather have him as a teammate rather than as someone covering him.

“Malaki epekto sa akin ni Abe King eh,” Patrimonio. “Nasiko ko kasi yan, and then nagkaroon ng psychological effect sa akin. Kaya nung nagkaroon ng opportunity to get him, sabi ko kung pwede kunin natin si Abe King.”

In one incident during one of their many encounters, Patrimonio accidentally elbowed King, whose nose was dislocated, forcing the Chairman of the Boards to miss several months.

Fast forward 1993, King would join Patrimonio and Jerry Codiñera up front and the Coney Island Ice Cream Stars would win the All-Filipino title. It was also that year when The Captain would win his second MVP award.

Throughout his career, King would become an important piece to every team he played for.

He burst onto the scene in 1977 and quickly became Toyota’s premier power forward after playing for the champion Crown Motors of the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association. King immediately filled the void left by the recently retired Alberto “Big Boy” Reynoso and played in the Tamaraws’ starting line-up with Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Francis Arnaiz and Virgilio Cortez.

With most of the scoring duties delegated to his legendary teammates, King fortified the team’s trust by doing the dirty work. He would use his strength to cover the opponent’s center or import and he would fight for every loose ball. No wonder he is called the Chairman of the Boards for he is one of only 11 PBA players to collar at least 5,000 career rebounds. King currently sits ninth in the PBA all-time rebounding leaders with 5,222 in 782 games played.

But as proof that he doesn’t back off in any possession, he is seventh in career offensive rebounds with 1,942. The 13-time PBA champion is also 13th in career blocks with 580. His exploits on defense were recognized with three All-Defensive Team distinctions (1985, 1988, 1990).

King immediately made an impact as a force to reckon with despite being a rookie. Yet, he was edged by Jimmy Taguines for Rookie of the Year honors. The 6’3” monster on the glass could care less for he had a lengthier and more established career while Taguines retired without fanfare in the early 80s. Furthermore, he was named to the Mythical First Team in 1982 and Mythical Second Team in 1985 even though bulk of his work is centered around rebounding that triggered Toyota’s fabled fast break.

Although grabbing the boards is his specialty, he is no pushover on offense either. He has a dependable mid-range jumper. His under goal stab is a potent weapon as well.  When his name is called upon to score, he can deliver, proof of that was when he finished with  60 points in a losing effort against Toyota in 1979.

King is one of the few ballers who won titles with three different PBA clubs. He won his first championship during the 1977 Invitational Conference via a sweep of Emtex Brazil and went on to grab six more crowns before the Toyota franchise disbanded in 1983. While most of his former teammates joined either Beer Hausen or Gilbey’s Gin, he signed for one season with Gold Eagle Beer but did not have any playoff success.

He signed with Great Taste for the 1985 season and teamed up with Manny Victorino, Ricardo Brown, Chito Loyzaga and Willie Pearson, powering the Coffee Makers to the  Open and All-Filipino Conference titles that year. King also won the 1987 All-Filipino title while teaming up with former Crispa rivals Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, and Bernie Fabiosa. Before his stint with the franchise ended, he added the 1990 All-Filipino Title as a Presto Tivoli to his championship haul. King rounded up his career winning two more titles with Purefoods while taking off some defensive pressure off Patrimonio.

With accomplishments such as these, Abe King deserved a spot in the PBA 40 Greatest Players List. If defensive stalwarts such as Chito Loyzaga and Marc Pingris were able to crack a spot, Abe King should have been given his rightful place for he set the benchmark in rebounding during the early years of the league.  Just like the rebounds he collected, Abe King should grab his rightful spot with basketball royalty when 10 more players are added in the league’s 50th anniversary.