The Top Five PBA Centers Right Now (June 1, 2014)

The center position is the position of the future for the PBA. Right now, of course, we have guys like June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter dominating the stat-sheets with their daily double-doubles. Aside from them, old-timers like Sonny Thoss (wait, he’s an old-timer already?!), Asi Taulava, and Mick Pennisi are keeping opposing defenses in check. There’s also Rain or Shine’s promising beanpole, Raymond Almazan and, in the amateur pipeline, DLSU’s Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres, San Beda’s Kyle Pascual, FEU’s Russel Escoto, and NU’s Troy Rosario. Other prospects include the elusive Christin Standhardinger from Hawaii/Germany, Moala Tautuaa and Rich Smith from the ABL, and, quite possibly, Chris Blake from Bradley University. The big man’s era is here again.

Without further ado, here they are – the top five centers in the 2013-2014 PBA season as of the morning of June 1, 2014 (as always, this is based on the Player Efficiency ratings as calculated by

The best PBA centers of then, now, and tomorrow.

5. Mick Pennisi (BAR) - 9.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.3 triples per game, .420 3pt%, 24.9 EFF
- Pennisi won’t wow anybody with his lean frame, his rebounding, his defense, or his hairline, but, man, can he shoot that three-point shot. I mean, he leads the league in threes per game for this season AND three point percentage! Not bad for a guy who was born in the year Captain & Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” topped the Billboard charts, eh? And because his skill-set is so unique for a guy his size, there’s a strong chance he’ll be playing well into the year Justin Bieber releases his Greatest Hits album.

4. Sonny Thoss (ALA) - 11.6ppg, 7.9rpg, 2.5apg, 31.2 EFF
- The 6’7 Thoss continues to be a Jekyll & Hyde type of center in his tenth season in the pros. He’ll a double-double in one game and then completely disappear in the next. Still, there’s a lot to be appreciated with the James Cook University product. He is the fifth-best shot-blocker in the league despite averaging only 0.91 rejections per outing, and, as can be seen here, is still one of the most efficient players bar none. He is, in fact, ninth overall in player efficiency rating for the 2013-2014 season. There’s no arguing that he is still Alaska’s ace.

Veterans Sonny Thoss and Asi Taulava jostle for position in the low block.
(image by Paolo Papa/Sports 5)

3. Asi Taulava (AIR) - 14.2ppg, 12.5rpg, 1.9apg, 37.3 EFF
- Believe it or not, Asi is playing his best season since being named to the Mythical First Team in 2009. The Rock has regained his scoring touch and continues to conquer the glass. He helped lead Air 21 to the semifinals of the 2014 Commish Cup, and he’s (literally) a big reason the oft-maligned Express are tied for second overall in the team standings as of this writing. Despite being 41 years old already, Asi continues to stamp his class. I have a feeling it’s because so many young centers are rising through the ranks. This motivates the Fil-Tongan to no end. One might even say he’s the PBA’s version of San Antonio’s Tim Duncan! #Timeless

2. Greg Slaughter (GIN) - 14.7ppg, 9.8rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5bpg, .533 FG%, 37.6 EFF
- And speaking of young big men rising through the ranks, there’s definitely no excluding Greg Slaughter, who is heavily-favored to cop the Rookie of the Year plum by season’s end. The former Ateneo and Gilas slotman has been far from flawless this season, and, in fact, he has been a tad inconsistent, but there’s no denying his sky-high potential. He’s already a dominant post player on both ends, and, with a little more seasoning, he is sure to dominate the PBA along with the number one guy on this list.

Greg Slaughter sizes up the smaller Aldrech Ramos.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5)

1. June Mar Fajardo (SMB) - 16.0ppg, 13.8rpg, 1.4apg, 2.1bpg, .537 FG%, 42.2 EFF
- Fajardo is, without a doubt, the most dominant center in the country today. He can score, rebound, block shots, and just makes an impact on the game in a way hardly anybody else can. If he can continue on this trajectory, he might, one day, become the best center in the history of the local game and, perhaps, even join the ranks of Hamed Haddadi, Wang Zhizhi, Yao Ming, Kim Joo-Sung, and Seo Jang-Hoon as one of the best Asian centers in recent memory. Oh, and, should he lead SMB to the title in the current conference, an MVP trophy might be in the works, too.

June Mar Fajardo could blossom into the best PBA center in the foreseeable future.
(image by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5)

Outside looking in:
Beau Belga (ROS) - 24.1 EFF
Raymond Almazan (ROS) - 22.8 EFF
JR Quiñahan (ROS) - 21.5 EFF 

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