A Guide to the Philippine Basketball Association

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is the country’s first and oldest professional basketball league. Founded in 1975 with nine teams, the PBA was created with the goal of popularising basketball in the Philippines. Since then, it has become the premier professional basketball league in the country and the second oldest in Asia, after the NBA.

With its rich history and passionate fanbase, the PBA has become an integral part of Philippine sports culture. The league features some of the country’s top basketball players, including both homegrown talent and international imports. In addition to its regular season games, the PBA also hosts special events such as the PBA All-Star Weekend and the PBA Draft, which attracts both local and international attention.

For those new to the PBA, understanding the league’s history, rules, and culture can be a bit overwhelming. This guide aims to provide an introduction to the PBA, covering everything from the league’s origins to its current format, as well as key players, rivalries, and trends to watch out for. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the sport, this guide will help you navigate the exciting world of the Philippine Basketball Association.

History of the Philippine Basketball Association

Founding of the PBA

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) was founded in 1975 when nine teams left the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) to form their own professional basketball league. The founding teams were Crispa, Mariwasa, Concepcion Carrier, Toyota, U-Tex, Tanduay, Royal Tru-Orange, 7-Up, and Gilbey’s Gin.

With the creation of the PBA, the teams were able to secure corporate sponsorship and receive better compensation for players. This allowed the league to attract top talent and establish itself as the premier basketball league in the Philippines.

Evolution of the league

Over the years, the PBA has undergone many changes and improvements. In 1989, the league introduced the 3-point shot, which added a new dynamic to the game. In 1993, the league implemented a salary cap to prevent teams from overspending on players and maintain parity in the league.

The PBA has also expanded to include more teams. In 1988, the league expanded to 10 teams with the addition of Purefoods. In 1990, the league expanded to 12 teams with the addition of Pepsi and Pop Cola. The league also went through a period of contraction in the early 2000s, reducing the number of teams to 8 before expanding back to 12 in 2010.

Today, the PBA remains a beloved institution in the Philippines, with a loyal fanbase and a rich history of exciting basketball.

Teams in the PBA

Current Teams

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is composed of twelve company-branded franchised teams. Each team has its own unique identity, fan base, and history. These teams are:

Team Name City/Province
Alaska Aces Quezon City
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Quezon City
Blackwater Bossing Quezon City
Meralco Bolts Pasig
NLEX Road Warriors Quezon City
NorthPort Batang Pier Quezon City
Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters Quezon City
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters Quezon City
San Miguel Beermen Quezon City
Talk ‘N Text Tropang Giga Quezon City
TerraFirma Dyip Quezon City
University of the East Red Warriors Quezon City

Former Teams

Over the years, the PBA has had several teams that are no longer active. Some of these teams include:

  • Great Taste Coffee Makers
  • Presto Tivolis
  • San Juan Knights
  • Shell Rimula X
  • Sta. Lucia Realtors

These teams may no longer be playing in the PBA, but they will always be a part of the league’s rich history.

PBA Season Format

Conference System

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is composed of 12 teams that participate in a yearly season format divided into three conference cups. The three conferences are the Philippine Cup, the Commissioner’s Cup, and the Governor’s Cup. Each conference is composed of a double round-robin elimination round where each team plays against each other twice. The top eight teams at the end of the elimination round will advance to the playoffs. The Philippine Cup is the most prestigious conference of the three since it does not include import reinforcements. The Commissioner’s Cup and Governor’s Cup, on the other hand, allow each team to have one foreign import reinforcement.


The playoffs are composed of three rounds: the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship. In the quarterfinals, the top eight teams will compete in a best-of-three series. The top four teams will have a twice-to-beat advantage, meaning they only need to win once to advance to the next round. In the semifinals, the remaining four teams will compete in a best-of-seven series. The top two teams will have a twice-to-beat advantage, meaning they only need to win three games to advance to the championship round. The championship round is also a best-of-seven series, where the winner is crowned as the conference champion. The team that wins two conferences in a season will automatically advance to the finals of the third conference, a format known as the “Grand Slam.” Overall, the PBA season format provides an exciting and competitive atmosphere for both players and fans alike. With its unique conference system and playoffs format, the PBA continues to be one of the most popular sports leagues in the Philippines.

PBA Rules and Regulations

Gameplay Rules

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) uses a combination of rules that govern the National Basketball Association (NBA) and rules used in international games governed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). A game consists of four 12-minute quarters, which is the NBA standard. The three-point line’s distance is set back to 6.75 m (22.1 feet), which is the FIBA’s three-point distance for international competitions.

Player Eligibility

Players must be at least 18 years old to be eligible to play in the PBA. Each team is allowed to have a maximum of three foreign players, also known as imports. The imports’ height limit is 6’10” for the Governors’ Cup and 6’5″ for the Commissioner’s Cup and Philippine Cup.

Fouls and Penalties

The PBA has a strict policy on fouls and penalties. Players are allowed five fouls per game, and if they exceed this limit, they are disqualified from the game. Technical fouls are given to players who violate the rules of the game, and they result in one free throw and possession of the ball for the opposing team. Flagrant fouls are given to players who commit violent or dangerous acts, and they result in two free throws and possession of the ball for the opposing team.

Players who accumulate a certain number of technical fouls throughout the season are suspended for one game. Meanwhile, players who accumulate a certain number of flagrant fouls throughout the season are suspended for a specific number of games.

PBA Legends

All-time greats

The Philippine Basketball Association has produced a number of legendary players throughout its history. These players have made significant contributions to the league and have cemented their place in PBA history. Some of the all-time greats include:

  • Robert Jaworski – Known as “The Living Legend,” Jaworski is one of the most iconic players in PBA history. He played for over 20 years and won numerous championships with the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
  • Alvin Patrimonio – Patrimonio is one of the most dominant players in PBA history. He played for the Purefoods franchise for his entire career and won four MVP awards and four championships.
  • Benjie Paras – Paras is the only player in PBA history to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season. He won two championships with the Shell franchise.
  • Johnny Abarrientos – Abarrientos is known as “The Flying A” due to his incredible leaping ability. He won two MVP awards and four championships with the Alaska franchise.

Records and milestones

Over the years, many players have set records and achieved significant milestones in the PBA. Here are some notable ones:

Record/Milestone Player Details
Most points in a game Adrian Dantley Scored 71 points for the Great Taste Coffee Makers in 1985.
Most championships won Robert Jaworski Won 13 championships as a player and coach.
Most MVP awards won Alvin Patrimonio Won four MVP awards in his career.
First Filipino to play in the NBA Tony Genato Played for the San Francisco Warriors in 1962.

The PBA Legends and their records and milestones have helped shape the league into what it is today. Their contributions to the sport of basketball in the Philippines will always be remembered and celebrated.

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