Representing one’s university is a privilege for any student-athlete. This often leads to future success, as this can be used as a springboard to greater heights. The Lasallian takes a glance at former Green Archers who are currently in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
For an example, look no further than the handful of Lasallians who have reached the professional level of basketball. They excelled on and off the court, and helped their team claim championships, thus getting the attention of PBA teams. From the likes of Lim Eng Beng, Jun Limpot, Renren Ritualo, and Mark Cardona, to the current set of active players today, DLSU has groomed players to compete at the highest level of Philippine basketball.
Willy Wilson, Mike Cortez, Joseph Yeo, Ryan Arana, Jvee Casio, Rico Maierhofer, Joshua Webb, Yutien Andrada, and Papot Paredes are the Lasallians currently playing in the PBA. The trio of LA Revilla, Arnold Van Opstal, and Norbert Torres, members of the 2013 championship-winning team, are competing in the league as well and have been named to the pool of players for the Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team.
Current PBA players in their college days
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the team from Taft famously won four consecutive championships under head coach Franz Pumaren. Willy Wilson, Mike Cortez, and Joseph Yeo were part of that formidable team and each player contributed significantly to produce those championships.
Wilson, who was an addition to the team in 1998, proved to be one of the best blue-chip players in the country. His high energy was a key component to the team’s championship run as he provided hustle and quality defense. He was drafted 15th overall by the Alaska Aces in 2004 and is currently playing for the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
Cortez joined the team in 2000 and seamlessly matched Pumaren’s system. Nicknamed the “Cool Cat”, the Filipino-American was a steady presence on the court as he exhilaratingly provided offensive from the backcourt position. Aside from winning two championships with the Green-and-White, Cortez also won individual awards himself as he bagged Mythical Five honors in 2000 and 2002. He was also drafted by the Alaska Aces with the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, but has bounced around the league and is now playing for the Global Port Batang Pier under his college coach, Pumaren.
Providing an extra spark in the backcourt was former Xavier School standout Joseph Yeo. He represented the University from 2001 to 2005 and slowly grew to be indispensable to the team. With his ability to slash into the lane and score with his athleticism, Yeo was nicknamed “The Ninja”. He was also named in the Mythical Five during his last playing year for the team. Yeo was drafted 3rd overall by the now defunct Coca-Cola Tigers in 2006. He is now playing for the Meralco Bolts.
The cunning left-handed Ryan Arana entered DLSU in 2003 and was part of the 2004 championship team with Yeo. That championship was recalled a couple of years later due to eligibility issues of two teammates. Although he failed to bag an individual award, Arana provided energetic plays on both offense and defense. He was drafted by the Welcoat Dragons (now called Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters) in 2007 and suited up for the franchise until 2015. He was eventually traded to the San Miguel Beermen. A year after playing for the Beermen, he was shipped to the Mahindra Floodbuster.
Joining the basketball team in 2003 and 2004 respectively, Jvee Casio and Rico Maierhofer were the pillars of the team during its UAAP Season 70 championship run after the school’s suspension the season prior.
Casio was one of Pumaren’s reliable playmakers and scorers. He was a composed point guard whom the Green Archers often looked to down the stretch. He capped his rookie season with a Rookie Of The Year (ROY) Award and ended his college career with a second Mythical Five award in 2008. Before finishing his last year as a runner-up to the ADMU Blue Eagles, he famously led his team in an incredible championship run in 2007, coming off La Salle’s UAAP suspension in 2006. He finished as co-Finals Most Valuable Player with Cholo Villanueva.
Casio delayed his plans to enter the PBA draft in 2009. He suited up for the national team from 2009 to 2011 and was the team’s starting point guard. The 5’11” playmaker was vital to the team’s semifinal finish in the 2011 FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) Asia Championships.
Eventually, Casio entered the PBA Draft. He was chosen as the first overall pick by the Powerade Tigers (formerly Coca-Cola), but was traded a year later to the Alaska Aces where he is currently the starting point guard of the franchise.
Helping Casio win the UAAP championship in 2007 against the UE Red Warriors, who went 14-0 in the elimination round, was Maierhofer. The lanky forward provided the team with blue-collar work as he grabbed rebounds, blocked shots, and irritated the opposing players with his pesky defense. Maierhofer also won the Mythical Five award during the 2007 season. He was drafted by the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants (now called Star Hotshots) in 2009 and won the ROY award with the team. He currently suits up for Global Port.
Joshua Webb joined the Green-and-White in 2008 after a stellar career with De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ). In his rookie year, they concluded the season as finalists. He was known for his hustle and ability to give the team timely scoring lifts. Drafted by the now defunct Air 21 Express in 2013, Webb now plays for the Mahindra Floodbuster with fellow Green Archer Arana.
Papot Paredes first suited up for La Salle in 2010. Before leaving the team prior to the 2013 season, Paredes showed his capability on the defensive end with his energetic play and ability to block shots. Paredes was drafted 15th overall by Barako Bull, but is now playing for Global Port.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team Pool players
The Philippines is currently undergoing preparations for the upcoming Southeast Asian Basketball (SEABA) Championship which will be held in May at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City
To compete at the international level and represent the Philippines is one of the biggest honors one could have. Gilas coach Chot Reyes named 24 players, including Arnold Van Opstal, LA Revilla, and Norbert Torres as part of the national team’s pool of players. The trio were members of the 2013 championship-winning Green Archers.
Arnold Van Opstal
Like Webb, Van Opstal came from the basketball program of DLSZ. During his stay in Taft from 2011 to 2014, he became known for his intimidating defense behind his strength and athleticism. Offensively, he had the ability to score under the basket with his post up play. Van Opstal and his team, the San Miguel Beermen, recently emerged as champions of the PBA Philippine Cup.
A former member of the Philippine Junior National Basketball Team, Norbert Torres also suited up for the Green-and-White from 2011 to 2014. He is a Southeast Asian Games Gold medalist and also won the 2015 edition of the SEABA Championship. He was one of La Salle’s focal rebounders and defenders, and captained the Green Archers during their 2013 title run. At times during their UAAP years, Torres and Van Opstal would be paired together on the court to create mismatches in the post. Torres was drafted by the Star Hotshots in 2015 and now suits up for the Phoenix Fuel Masters after being traded.
LA Revilla entered La Salle in 2008 and played behind the likes of Casio. Being undersized at 5’8” did not hinder Revilla from pursuing basketball. Eventually, he became known for his ability to outsmart opponents, setup teammates for baskets, make scoring opportunities for himself, and even create on defense.
He missed the 2009 and 2010 UAAP seasons due to diabetes, but managed to make a comeback. He returned to the Green Archers’ roster the following year and played his last season for the team from Taft in 2013. As the most senior member of the team in their championship run, the point guard provided invaluable leadership and composure.
The team bucked off a sluggish start to win 11 of its last 12 games to win the championship. Succeedingly, he was drafted by Global Port on the same year and eventually found his way to Kia Sorento (now known as Mahindra Floodbuster).
The level of play in Philippine sports has continued to improve year after year. Despite no longer donning the Green-and-White, these former Green Archers continue to give pride and banner the Lasallian community in both the local and international scenes.