Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 PBA Rookie Draft: Who will be the top pick?

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will take first crack at the rookie pool in the PBA draft at the Robinson’s Midtown Manila on Nov. 3 and from indications, it appears that 7-foot Greg Slaughter will be the top pick. But San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone said yesterday Terrence Romeo’s surprise entry has thrown a wrench in the selection and he’s not ruling out the point guard to be an early choice.
For his part, Barako Bull coach Rajko Toroman singled out Slaughter of Ateneo, 6-7 Ian Sangalang of San Sebastian College and 6-7 1/2 Raymund Almazan of Letran as the likely top three picks. 

Barako has the fourth, fifth and sixth slots in the first round because of previous trades. Toroman said if the three bigs are taken, his options will be Romeo of FEU, R. R. Garcia of FEU, Jeric Teng of UST or James Forrester of Arellano.

“Romeo could be a top three pick,” said Cone. “I realize there’s a lot of big guys in the draft but you remember in 2004, James Yap was the second overall pick and Rich Alvarez was the No. 1 choice with Ping (Marc Pingris) No. 3, Ranidel (de Ocampo) No. 4 and Sonny (Thoss) No. 5. James should’ve been the top pick that year even if there were several big guys to choose from. In the 1984 NBA draft, Michael Jordan, a guard, was picked No. 3 behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie, two big guys. But I think Jordan should’ve been No. 1. It could be the same thing in the PBA this year. We’ve got big guys around but I think it’s possible that Romeo might go early. To be honest, I really haven’t thought about the draft yet as I’m focused on the Finals. I usually look over the names, review videos two weeks before the draft. Luckily, we’ve got assistant coaches who know the guys coming out like Richard (del Rosario) and Johnny (Abarrientos). They’re familiar with the players from the PBA D-League and college.”

Toroman said Garcia and Romeo shouldn’t be overlooked. “They’ve proved themselves in the UAAP,” he said. “I think Jeric will go early. He got a lot of positive mileage in the last UAAP season and played very well for UST. I also like Forrester who is strong, has a good body and can play. Our choices will depend on who is available after the first three picks are made. We’ve got a chance to build our team with draft picks and I’m looking forward to recruiting outstanding young talent.”

PBA operations and technical committee assistant Mauro Bengua, Jr. said 85 players beat Friday’s deadline to apply for the draft. The PBA will review the eligibility of each prospect and release the final list of approved candidates on Oct. 30. Gilas cadet players Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete and Ronald Pascual skipped the draft to concentrate on the national team.

The draft applicants include seven Fil-foreigners. The deadline for Fil-foreigners to apply fell last Sept. 12. The seven are Slaughter, 6-0 Nate Matute of Jose Rizal University, 6-2 Forrester, 6-9 Isaac Holstein of West Virginia State, 6-3 Michael Silungan of UP, 5-11 Jens Knuttel of FEU and 6-8 John Usita of Shoreline Community College. Usita is 28 and because of his age, will not be required to go through the PBA D-League to apply for the draft. Usita, however, has to complete his citizenship documents to be cleared as a rookie applicant. Fil-foreigners who are age-eligible for the draft must play at least two conferences in the PBA D-League. The list of Fil-foreigners excludes former Gilas recruit Justin Melton who was born in Angeles City. Melton, 26, has suited up for Mount Olive College in North Carolina and the Malaysia Dragons in the ABL.

The natural draft order is Air 21, Globalport, Barako Bull, Ginebra, Meralco, Petron, Talk ‘N’ Text, Alaska, Rain Or Shine and San Mig Coffee. Because of trades, the draft sequence in the first round will be Ginebra (from Air 21), San Mig Coffee (from Globalport), Rain Or Shine (from Barako Bull), Barako Bull (from Ginebra), Barako Bull (from Meralco), Barako Bull (from Petron), Globalport (from Talk ‘N’ Text via Ginebra), Alaska, Rain Or Shine and San Mig Coffee.

The last five top draft picks were Fajardo, Jvee Casio, Noy Baclao, Japeth Aguilar and Gabe Norwood. This year’s applicants will report for biometric testing and sizing on Oct. 28.

The rights to the first pick were awarded in the draft lottery between Air 21 and Globalport at halftime of Game 1 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals in the Mall of Asia Arena last Friday. Air 21 won the lottery. Ginebra had acquired Air 21’s draft rights via a trade involving K. G. Canaleta and John Wilson last year. San Mig Coffee took Globalport’s draft rights via a trade involving Josh Urbiztondo. Ginebra will get the top pick in the draft for the first time in 17 years or since Aquino’s enlistment in 1996. The franchise also had the first pick in 1994 with Noli Locsin.

Bengua said the deluge of applicants was triggered by the rule that a player over 26 may try out for the D-League without passing through the draft for as long as he is not 28 or over. He said the last rookie prospect to submit his application was La Salle guard L. A. Revilla who played on the UAAP champion team this season. Revilla decided to apply for the draft a few hours before the deadline.


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