With a record field of 85 aspirants to choose from, expect all 10 teams to cash in on when the Philippine Basketball Association stage its annual Rookie Draft this Sunday at the Robinsons Place-Manila in Ermita, Manila.
From imposing big men to talented guards, this year’s rookie pool has plenty to offer, approximating the equally talented 2004 batch bannered by two-time league MVP James Yap of San Mig Coffee along with eventual national team players Marc Pingris, Ranidel De Ocampo, Sonny Thoss and Gary David.And Yahoo! Philippines has come up with its own mock draft that can give pro league fans a view of what might transpire over the first two rounds.
Take note that the draft order reflects the official picks as of this writing and does not consider the rumored trades revolving around Barako Bull’s fourth, fifth and sixth picks as no official trades for these picks have been approved the time this piece was written. We shall update the list accordingly once a transaction regarding any pick is involved.
1. Barangay Ginebra – Greg Slaughter (Ateneo)
A no-brainer. On the lookout for a legitimate center, the Gin Kings–barring any last-minute change of heart–are expected to make the most out of the first overall pick by picking the 6-foot-11 Slaughter, arguably the most imposing big man available.
The former Ateneo center can immediately provide Barangay Ginebra the needed inside presence while patrolling the paint alongside fellow Blue Eagle Japeth Aguilar (6-foot-9) and newly-acquired JR Reyes (6-foot-7), forming what can be considered as a three-headed monster on both ends.
2. San Mig Coffee – Ian Sangalang (San Sebastian College-Recoletos)
With Slaughter already out of the mix, the Mixers will definitely snag Sangalang, a former NCAA MVP who can inject younger legs to an aging San Mig frontcourt led by Rafi Reavis (36 years old), Yancy De Ocampo (33) and Governors Cup finals MVP Marc Pingris (32).
While he needs to bulk up more to keep up with the physicality against the big boys, Sangalang, however, can play the stretch ‘4’ for the Mixers.
3. Rain or Shine – Raymond Almazan (Letran)
Having already locked up burly center Beau Belga to a multi-year, multi-million contract, the Elasto Painters are tipped to pick the lanky Almazan to address the team’s weakside defense.
And with Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia calling the shots for the Knights in the ongoing NCAA tournament, there’s no doubt Almazan can quickly blend with Belga and ‘Extra Rice Inc.’ partner JR Quinahan.
4. Barako Bull – Terrence Romeo (Far Eastern University)
The Energy Cola hold three first round picks this year and the team has already expressed its desire to tap the 5-foot-11 Romeo, who is coming from an MVP award-winning performance with the Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 76.
Whether Romeo can still pile up points with ease against in the pro ranks remains to be seen.
5. Barako Bull – RR Garcia (Far Eastern University)
Arguably the best playmaker available, Garcia can find himself teaming up anew with Tamaraws buddy Terrence Romeo at the Energy Cola camp. Either that or the Energy Cola can use one of them as trade bait.
6. Barako Bull – Nico Salva (Ateneo)
Also looking for fresher legs to complement the ‘Manong Brigade’ led by center Mick Pennisi and power forward Danny Siegle, the Energy Cola can use the sixth pick to tab the 6-foot-3 Salva, who emerged as an integral part of Ateneo’s ‘five-peat’ reign in the UAAP men’s cage wars.
Armed with a deft touch at mid-range, Salva can play the ‘3’ spot offensively for Barako Bull.
7. GlobalPort – Jeric Teng (University of Santo Tomas)
After trading ace gunner Gary David to the Meralco Bolts, the Batang Pier are continuing to rebuild a younger team and tapping the 6-foot-1 Teng is a big step towards that direction.
Although slowed down by a spate of injuries in his five-year collegiate stint with the Growling Tigers, Teng has proven what he’s capable of offensively as he helped UST made it to the UAAP finals for the past two years.
8. Alaska – James Forrester (Arellano University)
Still solid on backcourt and frontcourt positions, the Aces might use the eight pick to tap a promising wingman to relieve veteran Tony Dela Cruz and the 6-foot-2 Forrester certainly fits the bill.
A 6-foot-2 forward, Forrester turned heads in his two-year stint with the Chiefs and, with a fascinating motor just like reigning top rookie Calvin Abueva, he can surely thrive in the system of coach Luigi Trillo.
9. Rain or Shine – Justin Chua (Ateneo)
Painters head coach Yeng Guiao has a pair of deft eyes in finding a diamond in the rough and the 6-foot-5 Chua has the tools to turn into one.
Although overshadowed by his more heralded teammates Greg Slaughter and Nico Salva at Ateneo, Chua has shown he can hold his own ground after leading Blackwater Sports to a stunning sweep of the heavily-favored NLEX in the previous PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
10. San Mig Coffee – Isaac Holstein (West Virginia State University)
The 6-foot-8 Holstein may be raw as far as his basketball skills is concerned but don’t be surprise if head coach Tim Cone tap him at the close of the first round. Afterall, Cone loves to utilize big men notably for defensive purposes. Remember former Alaska center James Walkvist?
ALSO READ: Ginebra all set to pick Slaughter
11. GlobalPort – Carlo Lastimosa (St. Benilde)
To further fill up the big offensive shoes left by David, the Batang Pier can choose former Blazers top gun Carlo Lastimosa at the start of the second round. At 6-foot flat, Lastimosa was known as one of the high-scoring guards in the collegiate ranks.
12. Rain or Shine – Eric Camson (Adamson)
Although undersized playing the ‘3’ and ‘4’ spots, Eric Camson has made a commendable job holding his ground, thanks to his big fighting heart–a notable trait that coach Yeng Guiao wants to see on his wards.
13. San Mig Coffee – Ryan Buenafe (Ateneo)
As wingman Allein Maliksi continues to recuperate from a partial ACL tear on his left knee, the Mixers can ease the pain through Buenafe, a 6-foot-2 forward who had a decorated collegiate career with the Blue Eagles.
Despite looking overweight, Buenafe makes up for it with his clutch shooting and high basketball IQ.
14. Barako Bull – Robby Celiz (National University)
One of the most underrated amateur cagers, the 6-foot-4 Celiz may found himself at the Energy Cola camp as Barako Bull intends to parade a younger line-up for the next season.
15. Alaska – Alex Nuyles (Adamson)
If the 6-foot-2 Nuyles is still available, the Aces can go for another wingman and picking him at the 15th spot appear to be worth the gamble.
16. Air21 – Justin Melton (Mt. Olive College)
With Simon Atkins now starting to emerge as the team’s primary pointguard, the Express might be looking for a backup and the 5-foot-11 Melton seem has what it takes to take the job. Although he failed to showcase his talent in the local soil, the former Gilas recruit has shown his potential with the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League.
17. Talk ‘N Text – JP Erram (Ateneo)
As they gear up in defending their Philippine Cup title, the Tropang Texters are looking for a needed help inside the lane, with veterans Ali Peek and Jon Ferriols now in the twilight of their careers. Tapping Erram, a 6-foot-7 center, can provide enough remedy and head coach Norman Black knows exactly what his former Ateneo slotman can bring to the table.
18. Alaska – JR Cawaling (Far Eastern University)
Looking for a future replacement to veteran sniper Dondon Hontiveros, the 6-foot-2 Cawaling is worth taking the risk. The former Tamaraw might have been under the radar for the past couple of years due to injuries but he was one of the first key pieces in the Gilas basketball program.
19. Rain or Shine – Eliud Poligrates (Southwestern University)
Another steal in this year’s draft? The 6-foot, high-scoring guard Poligrates seem like it and the Painters can use him to deepen their backcourt rotation composed of Paul Lee, Chris Tiu and TY Tang.
20. Barako Bull – Jeric Fortuna (University of Santo Tomas)
Taking Fortuna, a 5-foot-7 heady guard, with the 20th pick might turn into gold anew for the Energy Cola. Now, you’re thinking of how Emman Monfort, who was picked at 14th overall last year, defied the daunting odds last conference.