SportsThrowback: Green Archers in the PBA
Throwback: Green Archers in the PBA
May 26, 2014
May 26, 2014

Kevin Prudon

 

There is no “I” in team is a concept that every sports team should understand in order to attain success. In a team sport such as basketball, although it is possible to have a single player carry the team to victory at some games, there is no such thing as a one-man team. Even the star player of the team needs support from the rest of the team to raise more options in both defense and offense. What makes a team great are not only the star players but also the support and effort of the rest of the team.

In the past ten years, the DLSU Green Archers have had their share of championships because of different player combinations that led Lasallian basketball to new heights. Good examples were the combination of the 2004 finals MVP, Mac Cardona, Jerwin Gaco and Joseph Yeo who led the Green Archers in 2004.

Another example is the duo of JVee Casio and Rico Maierhofer who led the Green Archers in 2007. Each of these players had their share of ups and downs in their UAAP career. As they moved up to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to play professionally, they find themselves in a new level of competition.These players made it big in the UAAP but have they continued this trend in the PBA?

 

The Trio

Before representing the Green-and-White back in the 2003-2004 UAAP season, Jerwin Gaco played all of his years as an undergraduate student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.  During his one-year stint as a DLSU player, the 6’4 power forward immediately grew as a role player and as an enforcer inside the paint.  Gaco went undrafted in the PBA the following year and opted to sign a deal with the Harbour Center franchise, a semi-professional team from the Philippine Basketball League.

During his time with Harbour Center, Gaco won the highest individual award, the league MVP.   He also had a brief stint in the Liga Pilipinas regional league before finally being signed as a pro by the Philippine Patriots of the ASEAN Basketball league.  Gaco was finally welcomed to the PBA by being acquired by the Barako Energy Coffee Masters.  He now plays for the San Mig Coffee Mixers after he was signed back in 2010 when the team was still known as the B-Meg Llamados.  Nowadays, Gaco serves as a bench player and is only used sparingly in games.

After finishing level 10 in Carson high school in the United States, Mark “Mac” Cardona decided to come back to the Philippines in pursuit of a college education with his basketball skills as his ticket. In 2001, he tried out for the DLSU Green Archers and made it to the roster. Despite multiple concerns about his residency and eligibility, his rookie year turned out to be successful as he was hailed as the UAAP Rookie of the year and was also part of the Mythical Five of that season. His UAAP career peaked at Season 67, when he was proclaimed as the Finals MVP.

On August 2005, he signed up for the PBA draft and was drafted fifth overall by Air21 Express. Later on, he was traded to another PBA team, Talk ’N Text. During his rookie year in the PBA, he only averaged 7.7 points per game. However, in his second year, his scoring statistics increased to 18.1 points per game. 2007 was a celebrated year for Cardona as he was conferred with the PBA Conference Best Player Award and was one of the nominees for the MVP award for the 2006-2007 season. Cardona was able to once again taste championship gold in 2009 against Red Bull Barako in the finals. He was then traded to Meralco the following year. Yet, his stellar PBA performance remains as evidenced by his statistics. His average points per game throughout the years remained consistent, ranging from 14 points to 20 points per game.

A former Xavier School standout, Joseph Yeo called Taft Avenue his second home as he represented the Green Archers from the 2001 to the 2005 season.  Yeo was fortunate enough to be part of two champion teams, his first championship being the last of a four-peat with the first championship back in 1998.  Yeo gradually transformed as a star during his stint with the Green Archers.  He averaged 3.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists during his first year while his averages for his last year increased to 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

The 6 foot 1 shooting Guard was nicknamed “The Ninja” because of his seemingly impossible hang time, mid-air adjustments and circus shots.  Yeo was part of the Mythical Five during his last year in the UAAP.  In just his first year as a semi-pro player, Yeo led his team, Harbour Centre Batang Pier, to a championship finish while bagging the Finals MVP award. “The Ninja” then turned pro when he was drafted third overall in the PBA by the defunct Coca Cola Tigers, just behind Arwind Santos and Kelly Williams.  Yeo was also selected for the all-star team back in 2007.  Today, Yeo is bouncing back from a series of injuries that started in 2010, which sidelined him regularly in the past seasons.  Yeo was recently traded to the Air 21 Express, reuniting with his former college coach Franz Pumaren and fellow Archer Mac Cardona

 

The Half-Austrian and the Sniper

Even as a late bloomer in the sport of basketball, Rico Maierhofer proved that he’s got game and that he is only getting better. Due to a knee injury which occurred during a practice game, he made his official debut as a Green Archer in his second year and showcased his defensive prowess and rebounding ability which gave the Green Archers a solid interior presence. The peak of his UAAP career was when he helped his team win the championship in Season 70 and made it to the mythical five of that year.

In 2009, he decided to play professional basketball in the PBA and was drafted by B-meg Llamados. He couldn’t ask for a better start to his PBA career as he won the “Rookie of the year” honors, averaging 9.6 rebounds per game as well as 1.2 blocks per game. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL injury during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup of the same year. From then on, he struggled to get back to his original form, averaging only 2.3 points per game as well as 3.4 rebounds per game. He was then involved in a series of trades to teams such as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Barako Bull Energy Cola, and eventually landed in San Miguel Beermen. Throughout this period, he has been struggling to get more playing time and has eventually transformed into a role player for each team.

Star potential is probably the best way to describe the former “Sniper” of the DLSU Green Archers, JVee Casio. He had a notable UAAP career having been hailed as Rookie of the Year and having been part of the Mythical Five. The highlight of his career, though, was back in Season 70 where the Green Archers were deemed champions and he was named co-MVP with his teammate, Pocholo Villanueva. After he graduated from DLSU, Casio decided to take part in the Smart-Gilas program where he represented the Philippines in different international competitions. He then applied for the 2011 PBA draft and was selected first overall by the Powerade Tigers.

Unfortunately, he did not get the debut that he was looking for. Due to a sore left knee, he missed the first four games, and from that point on, he struggled to get back his groove. Eventually, he overcame his predicament and helped the Powerade Tigers reach the finals of that season. In the following year, he was traded to the Alaska Aces but was back to his winning form with an average of 12.6 points per game and having a 3-point percentage 33.4%.