Dennis Espino

On: 25 September 2008

Jersey number: 16
Height/Weight: 6'7" 215 lbs.
Age: 34
Date of Birth: 20 December 1973
Hometown: Angeles City, Pampanga
Position: Center
Years Pro: 13
College: University of Sto. Tomas
Monicker: Dennis the Menace
Teams played for in the PBA: Sta. Lucia Realtors

Basketball Career:

Dennis Espino caught the attention of many basketball coaches when he showed great leadership in steering the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) to a rare four-peat championships in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Basketball. The leadership he has shown made him the logical choice for the Sta. Lucia Realty when they made him the number one pick in the 1995 PBA Draft.

Working in tandem with Jun Limpot, the 1995 number one draft pick, Espino helped the Realtors cop a third place trophy in that year's PBA Governor's Cup. Several third placed finishes and coach changes led to the inevitable breakup of the Limpot-Espino tandem. Limpot was traded to the Barangay Ginebra Kings for Marlou Aquino before the Conference begun in early 2000.

By hiring former grand slam winning coach Norman Black and choosing Paolo Mendoza as the number one pick in the 2000 PBA Draft, the Realtors reach the quarterfinals of the All-Filipino Cup. The combination of Espino, Aquino, Mendoza and import Damien Owens finally helped the Realtors win their first ever championship in the PBA by dominating the 2001 Governor's Cup Finals against the highly favored San Miguel Beermen.

After Limpot was traded, Espino became the heart, soul and acknowledged leader of Sta. Lucia Realty despite the influx of some talented newcomers to the team. It is not just the points or rebounds the beefy center-forward gives to the Realtors’ cause, nor the additional toughness he brings when he’s on the court.

“It’s his attitude,” SLR former coach Alfrancis Chua says of his 34-year-old team skipper. “He’s a winner and he wants his teammates to adopt the same mind-set.”

Chua said Espino’s game just reflects the tenacity the latter shows in practice.

“Our practices have been tough and he’s staying in the gym, doing some weights. Even if we don’t have practices, he continues his weights program. He really wants to lead this team, especially the younger players, by example,” Chua said.


Espino has shown some signs of breaking down even if he played and started in all 22 games in the 2006 season for the Realtors after appearing in just 34 games the whole of 2005. His statistics is obviously declining the last 3 years.

Despite the entry of sensational Fil-Am Kelly Williams, Espino is still among the team leaders in scoring and rebounding. During the 2006-2007 PBA Philippine Cup, he averaged 12.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 0.7 bpg in 26.1 minutes per ball game. The problem with Espino in this Conference is his penchant to turn over the ball many times, averaging 2.4 turnovers per game.

In the 2006-2007 PBA Fiesta Cup, Espino can only manage 9.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.4 bpg in 23.8 minutes per ball game. However, he vastly improved on this numbers during the 2008 PBA Philippine Cup where he averaged 11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg in 26.28 minutes of action. He was even adjudged as the Finals MVP after they won the 7-game series against the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants. His number in the finals were phenomenal, 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and almost an assists per game.

The entry of young players in the roster of the Realtors has not diminished the value of Espino to the team. Nothwithstanding his decreasing average production every year, the Realtors is expected to continue depending on his leadership and production in crucial situations.

  • 2-time Mythical Team (2001, 2003)
  • Defensive Player of the Year (2005)
  • 2-time All-Defensive Team (2001, 2005)
  • PBA Philippine Cup Finals MVP(2007-2008)

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