The PBA Annual Rookie Draft

It’s time for new blood, Palawan.  Every year around this time, after the various collegiate leagues have crowned their men’s basketball champs, seniors or graduating athletes take their chances to make it to the pro leagues.

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Annual Rookie Draft is upon us. Scheduled on December 16, 2018, at Robinson’s Place Manila, a fresh batch of young, eager and vibrant talents are expected to get drafted by all 12 PBA teams looking to re-tool their arsenal for next season’s wars.

The Columbian Dyip is set to pick first in this year’s draft followed by the Blackwater Elite and the NorthPort Batang Pier. Exact draft order as follows:

              * Columbian Dyip

              * Blackwater Elite

              * NorthPort

              * NLEX (acquired via trade with Phoenix Fuel)

              * Meralco

              * Rain or Shine

              * NLEX

              * Rain or Shine

              * Alaska

              * Magnolia

              * Columbian Dyip

              * Phoenix

Note that Rain or Shine, NLEX and the Dyip all have two picks each on the first round, an aftermath of prior trades. Let’s take a closer look at the consensus top 3 picks for this year:

CJ Perez 6’2 – I wrote an article about him and we all know the “Baby Beast” is made for the pros. Ripe for the picking.  Columbian Dyip has already expressed their intent to pick Perez, the stalwart from Lyceum of the Philippines University, as number 1 pick overall. Will they change minds now that a former two time UAAP MVP has formally applied for the draft? Let’s wait and see.

Bobby Ray Parks 6’4 – another long overdue applicant. The two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player from National University is a veteran coming in. A member of numerous international tournaments and also an MVP of the ASEAN Basketball League, Parks is expected to contribute immediately for any team that gets him. Blackwater Elite is primed to pick him at number 2 should the Dyip pick Perez at first. Imagine a front court of 6’7 JP Erram, 6’3 Mac Belo, and Parks. Together, these 3 players can light up the scoreboard for the Elite.

Robert Bolick 6’0 – I consider Perez and Parks as the consensus first two picks. Looking for a replacement for Terrence Romeo, NorthPort is expected to choose this San Beda Red Lion to shore up their backcourt and partner with mainstay Stanley Pringle. A Bolick-Pringle backcourt guarantees a solid guard rotation for the Batang Pier. Will Bolick be able to show and prove he can compete with the “big boys” in the PBA? Let’s wait and see folks.

Picks 4 to 12 can be considered as open with teams expecting to choose what they need versus the best available player on the pecking order.  This year’s pool has mostly guards and wings with the likes of Paul Desiderio 5’11 (UP Maroons), Michael Calisaan 6’4 (San Sebastian Stags), and Jay Jay Alejandro 6’0 (NU Bulldogs) all expected to go on the first round.

A couple of big Green Archers (La Salle) can also be drafted early: Abu Tratter 6’5 and Santi Santillan 6’5.  Both are potential impact players. Although not as skilled as Ben Mbala, Tratter provides the backup minutes and the blue collar work for the Archers, making sure to stop the opponents best low post guy on top of giving bone-crunching picks for the La Salle shooters and controlling the boards. Santillan is also a quality finesse big that can be a stretch four option in the PBA.

Other potential picks are NU’s Matt Salem, San Beda’s Jayvee Mocon, and Ateneo’s Kris Porter.  A total of 47 candidates are up for grabs and I expect PBA Teams to go as far as the fourth round to get what they need to upgrade their teams next year.

Meanwhile, I expect a battle up to game 7 for the ongoing PBA Governor’s Cup Final between the Alaska Aces and the Magnolia Hot Shots. The series is now tied 2-2. Both teams match well against each other so expect a wonderful pre – Christmas finale, Palawan!

(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center company in Puerto Princesa. He also is the current Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation President)

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