Samboy Lim

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Avelino "Samboy" Lim, Jr.
No. 9
Shooting guard / Small forward
Personal information
Born (1962-04-01) April 1, 1962 (age 52)
Nationality Filipino
Listed height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
College Colegio de San Juan de Letran
PBA draft 1986 Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall
Selected by the San Miguel Beermen
Pro career 1986–1997
Career history
1988–1997 San Miguel Beermen
Career highlights and awards

Avelino Borromeo Lim, Jr. (born April 1, 1962), better known as Samboy Lim, is a former professional basketball player of the Philippine Basketball Association and many time national player in the 1980s. As a shooting guard, Lim distinguished himself with his above-the-rim play and often dangerous forays to the basket, punctuated by acrobatic shots, hang-time moves or a slam dunk. He is currently the Team manager of the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the PBA. Samboy did not win a Most Valuable Player Award because he did not get to complete a full season due to the many injuries he sustained on the court.


Amateur career[edit]

In the early 80s, Samboy Lim, played heads up college basketball in Letran in the NCAA and led the Knights win three straight NCAA seniors championships from 1982 to 1984, under the able leadership of Coach Laurentino "Larry" Albano. This "3 Time Winning" Letran Knights team surpassed the success of the 1950 team, emerging from the championship having won nine games out of ten. He was dubbed as Letran's "Knight of all Knights" after this grandslam feat.

In 1984, Samboy was recruited by Ron Jacobs - former Loyola Marymount coach, to join the RP Team which he politely declined because he was still playing for Letran College and wanted to win that much coveted and elusive NCAA grandslam title. He impressed Coach Jacobs and all the more, wanted him to be a part of that team which was spearheaded by Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco. The main objective was to win the 1986 Asian Basketball Confederation crown (now known as the FIBA Asia Cup) which was last won by the Philippines in 1973.

The team which played as the Northern Consolidated Cement and San Miguel Beer, was composed of selected amateur standout players notably Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Franz Pumaren, Elmer Reyes, Tonichi Yturri, Yves Dignadice, Ludovico Valenciano, Alfie Almario, Jun Tan, Benjie Gutierrez, Peter Aguilar, Jerry Codiñera, with three American reinforcements Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and hotshot Arthur "Chip" Engelland. They won the 1984 ABC Club Basketball Championship Cup and participated in the 1985 World Cup for Champion Clubs at Girona, Spain.

In the 1985 Jones Cup, he played heads up basketball with Allan Caidic in the San Miguel Beer-Philippines’ overtime victory against the USA, coached by the legendary Gene Keady, Keady, later, told Ron Jacobs that he had the highest respect for two Filipino cagers whom he called 'Heckle and Jeckle' (referring to Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim).

Also, in the amateur league during 1986, Lim played for Lhuillier in the Philippine Basketball League, then known as the Philippine Amateur Basketball League. His hardcourt presence in the PBL games resulted in a sell out crowds and jampacked audiences.

Professional career[edit]

In his professional career, Samboy Lim was a star player for San Miguel Beer's Grand Slam title in 1989 under coach Norman Black, though he usually came off the bench to spark the team's offensive attack.

In 1986, Samboy was almost always the top scorer for the RP National Basketball Team coached by Joe Lipa and competed in the Asian Games held in Seoul South Korea - where the RP Team captured the bronze medal. In the Asian Games, one of Samboy's most notable performances was versus the American-coached Malaysian Team where he scored 22 points. Another feather in his phenomenal basketball career was added in 1990, when Samboy scored a record setting 42 points on his way to winning the Most Valuable Player award in the PBA All-Star Game.

In the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, the Philippines sent an all-star pro team, coached by Robert Jaworski, to regain the country's basketball supremacy in the Asian Games. The national team was headed by 1990 PBA Most Valuable Player Allan Caidic, Alvin Patrimonio, Ramon Fernandez, Hector Calma,Yves Dignadice and Samboy Lim. Samboy was named into the Asian Games Basketball Mythical Five selection. The team did a great job winning all games with a large margin but lost in the finals against China and settled for the silver medal. He was also chosen as the Most Valuable Player in the said Asian Games even though he was not from the team who won the gold.

Samboy sported jersey no. 9 and wore knee-high socks, his testament and tribute to his idol Julius "Dr. J" Erving even though Lim stood only five feet eleven inches tall.

In 1993, Samboy was the player who got the first ever sportsmanship award for his exemplary behavior on the court. Lim is also a member of the Mythical Second Team Selection twice (1990 and 1993). Having spent half of his career on the injury list because of his high-flying moves that often led to bad landings on the hard court, he never won an MVP award. Basketball aficionados regarded Lim as the most successful player who never won an MVP award. It was even believed that the sportsmanship award was given to him because they knew that he could not complete a full season to qualify for that MVP.

Samboy is an impact player who can dominate the game by penetrating any defense. He uses his speed and leaping ability to create impossible shots. With his dare-devil high flying drives to the basket, sharp outside shooting and all out hustle, Samboy electrified the crowd for decades. He earned the monikers "The Skywalker" and "The Dragon."

Samboy was unstoppable in his time. He had heart, and for some time, he was the most popular player in the PBA after Robert Jaworski. Samboy is best remembered as the only player getting a standing ovation and applause from the crowd (even of the opposing team) every time he walks up to the officials table to enter the game. He was not only popular but was also respected and well loved. He even appeared in BATIBOT, a popular kiddie show during the 80s.

Samboy was so unstoppable that isolating him, during the time that isolation plays were allowed in the PBA, would mean an automatic two points or an "and one" situation. He could break down defenses like bowling pins even if he is matched-up with an import. In fact, Norman Black once drew a play where everybody switched to the other side so that Samboy can isolate his defender for that easy two points.

Samboy could also throw threes and has a mean long tom added to his arsenal. In one of the invitationals where foreign teams were pitted against PBA teams, Samboy Lim saved the face of the Philippines when he single-handedly took over in the IBA-PBA challenge in 1987 where the import was a then obscure Bobby Parks. In one of the championship game against Shell, then-commentator and now PBL commissioner Chino Trinidad said during half time that Shell is having a headache because Samboy's killing Shell almost single-handedly.

There was a time that Samboy Lim commanded more than P400,000 per month in salaries and bonuses and other perks, which at that time was unprecedented in the history of the PBA.

Later career and retirement[edit]

In 1998, he joined the Philippine Basketball League to play for Welcoat Paints and retiring that year becoming its team manager. In 2000, he was named into the PBA's 25 Greatest Players. In his entire career in the professional league, Samboy played for only one ball-club, San Miguel Beer, in which he serves as the team manager. Later in 2006, he assumed the team manager post of the sister team Barangay Ginebra Kings which he is still serving as of today.

In 2005, the PBA fans had another chance to see Samboy put his intensity and high-wire forays back on the court as he suited up for the PBA Greats Team. The PBA Greatest Game was held in the Araneta Coliseum as thousands of fans watched their favorite legends and great players of all time play. Samboy scored 29 points that game.

Career PBA Highlights[edit]

  • Member, PBA's 25 Greatest Players
  • Member, 1989 San Miguel Grand Slam Team
  • 2-time Mythical Second Team Selection (1990 and 1993)
  • First ever recipient of the Sportsmanship Award (1993)
  • 4-time PBA All-Star
  • 1990 PBA All-Star Game MVP
  • PBA's 25 Greatest Player Award
  • PBA Hall of Fame Award, Class 2009

Other Highlights[edit]

Samboy Lim
Medal record
Men's Basketball
Competitor for  Philippines
FIBA Asia Championship
Gold 1986 Kuala Lumpur Team competition
Asian Games
Silver 1990 Beijing Team competition
FIBA Asia Champions Cup
Gold 1984 Ipoh Team competition
  • MVP - 1982 ASEAN School Youth Championship
  • NCAA MVP (Letran Knights)
  • Member, 1990 Asian Games (Silver Medal)
  • Member, Mythical Five (1990 Asian Games)

Winning Championships:

  • NCAA Seniors Grandslam Team Letran, 1982, 1983, and 1984
  • 1984 FIBA Asian Club Basketball Cup Champion NCC/San Miguel Philippines, 1984
  • 1985 South East Asian Games Champion NCC/San Miguel Philippines, 1985
  • PBA Reinforced Conference Champion (Amateur Guest Team) NCC, 1985
  • William Jones Cup International Basketball Champion NCC/San Miguel Philippines, 1985
  • FIBA Asia Champion NCC/San Miguel Philippines, 1986
  • PABL Champions Lhulliers Jewellers Team, 1986
  • PBA Grandslam Team San Miguel Beer, 1989 Open Conference, 1989 All-Filipino Conference, 1989 Reinforced Conference
  • PBA All-Filipino Champion San Miguel Beer, 1992
  • PBA Governor's Cup Champion San Miguel Beer, 1993
  • PBA All-Filipino Cup Champion San Miguel Beer, 1994

Memorable Moments[edit]

  • 37 points against Banco di Roma of Italy in the 1985 FIBA World Club Championships in Girona, Spain
  • 27 points in San Miguel Beer's prestige-laden win over the IBA All-Stars
  • 42 points to help the Veterans team clobber the combined RSJ team 146-118 (June 3, 1990 PBA All-Star Game).
  • In the 1993 All-Filipino Finals Cup, Samboy made a memorable halfcourt shot at the buzzer against Coney Island. The shot made a huge impact to the game and to the series even though they did not won the title.
  • Samboy Lim pioneered the cross-over head shoulder fake. He uses this to fake and by-pass his defender.
  • He was a weird free-throw habit. Samboy messes up his hair before taking a shot in the free-throw lane and he doesn't bend his knees.
  • Samboy Lim took over the PBA Top Ten Plays of the Week. His skywalking, driving, and passing moves was usually on the top spot every week.
  • Aside from an All-Star MVP award in the PBA, Samboy won an MVP award in the NCAA as he propelled the Letran Knights to a grandslam feat during the early 1980s.
  • Due to the style of his high-wire game, Samboy never completed a season in the PBA due to injuries. One of his tragic injuries was a heated game with Purefoods. Regaining momentum in the last quarter after trailing most of the game, Samboy drove past several defenders and was inadvertedly clotheslined by Jojo Lastimosa in the air. This caused Samboy's body to lose control and went flying upside down hitting his head first then shoulder on the hardwood floor. Blood spilled and he was taken out in a stretcher. He had a cut in his forehead that needed 18 stitches outside and 8 stitches inside to close up. Jojo, a close friend of Samboy visited him at Makati Medical Center. According to Jojo, the first thing that Samboy mentioned is "Who won the game?" This was the attitude of a true sportsman and a friend. Also during that game, the collision sent Samboy in a somersault and his foot hit the board. This is one of the most tragic injury witnessed by everyone in a basketball game.
  • In 1993, the Sports Committee of the PBA created this award for Samboy because he was a true sportsman of the game. Also according to the media, the committee wanted to give this special award to Samboy in honor of his impact to the game and that he just couldn't complete a season because of injuries. For the many, this award for Samboy was almost considered an MVP award.
  • Also in 1993, Samboy Lim and Hector Calma volunteered to have their salary cut in order to acquire their good friend, Allan Caidic (who was a free agent from the disbanded Presto Ice Cream). This deal resulted in multiple championships. Back then, San Miguel was an All-Star studded team composed of great players like Ramon Fernandez and Ato Agustin.
  • Samboy wore the number 9 since his collegiate days up to the international games and in his entire career in the PBA.
  • Samboy is the only player known to get applauses and standing ovation from fans (even fans from the opposing team) as he walks to the scoring table to enter the game. He also gets a thundering roar from the crowd whenever he touches the ball.
  • There are many famous basketball players who idolize him. Most of them are self-confessed Samboy Lim fan themselves. Among them are Vergel Meneses, Paul Alvarez, James Yap, Danny Ildefonso, Mark Cardona and many others. Vergel Meneses "The Aerial Voyager" learned some nifty moves from Samboy that he applied to his slashing game. Paul Alvarez even mentioned in an interview that during his teenage years he runs home to watch the games of the Skywalker in the Ninoy Aquino Stadium. Samboy was even the great coach Big J Robert Jaworski's favorite player to field in in international games or in All-Star exhibitions. In the 1990 All-Star Game, Samboy played most of the entire game under coach Jaworski. The only time the Skywalker got a breather was when the Big J entered the game substituting him.
  • In an Asian Journal, an author from China went to the Philippines to get a perspective of the Basketball Scene. After the visit, the author wrote that Samboy Lim is the Michael Jordan of the PBA. It was also mentioned in an article that Ron Jacobs, the famous coach of NCC/San Miguel in the International Arena, sent Samboy to the States for an operation. Ron Jacobs said to the doctor, "Please fix Samboy. He is my Michael Jordan." Even PBA commentator Joe Cantada addressed in the 1990 All-Star game that Samboy is the Michael Jordan of Philippine Basketball.
  • The heart and competitiveness of the Dragon Skywalker Avelino "Samboy" Lim was evident especially on international competitions. In 1985, the Philippine Team competed in the World Club Basketball Championship in Girona, Spain. The Philippine team, wearing the San Miguel jersey, were loved by the European audiences due to the fact they were the smallest team competing on the tournament which included the national teams of Yugoslavia and Italy (Dražen Petrović that time was guarding Hector Calma). He led the team with his patented open court and acrobatic shots scoring his 37 points performance against Banco di Roma of Italy. Because of the intensity and competitiveness, during the game Samboy suffered extreme exhaustion and fatigue. After the game, he had to be carried out in a stretcher with an oxygen tank. His dedication and courage made him an instant folk hero. Then it happened again in their game against the US Team in the 1985 William Jones Cup where they won the game and became champions.
  • Samboy played his entire 9 year career in the PBA with San Miguel Beer. He retired in 1998. He is one of only two players - the other being Alvin Patrimonio (Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants) who played for 1 team in his whole PBA career.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mapua's school colors Leo Isaac
NCAA Seniors' Basketball Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by
Letran's school colors Romy Ang
Preceded by
Letran's school colors Romy Ang
NCAA Seniors' Basketball Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by
Mapua's school colors Alvin Patrimonio