By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THIS year’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rookie draft slated for March took further form recently after the league announced the order of drafting.
Set to pick first for the third straight season are Terrafirma Dyip, who finished last in the lone tournament in the coronavirus pandemic-hit PBA season in 2020.
Picking second are the Northport Batang Pier, who also have the 11th pick, to be followed by the NLEX Road Warriors, who have the third and fourth picks.
NLEX’s third pick was from the Blackwater Elite, which the former acquired in a previous trade between the two squads.
Selecting fifth are the Rain or Shine (ROS) Elasto Painters.
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok are at sixth, followed by the Alaska Aces (seventh), San Miguel Beermen (eighth), Meralco Bolts (ninth), Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters (10th) and Philippine Cup champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings (12th).
Sans first-round picks are the TNT Tropang Giga and Blackwater.
For the second round, Northport will be selecting first, followed by Blackwater for the next two picks.
Then Phoenix selects, with the order going ROS-Magnolia-Alaska-NLEX-Alaska-ROS-ROS-Barangay Ginebra after.
The PBA has yet to decide if it will have a special draft for Gilas Pilipinas just like last time.
“We’ll meet with the board of governors after all the applications are in to decide on how the drafting will go. The SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) hasn’t decided yet whether or not they need one (Gilas draft) because they don’t know who will declare for the draft,” said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.
Deadline for the submission of applications for the rookie draft is Jan. 27, with the draft happening on March 14.
In the last rookie draft, a special selection was made for Gilas in line with the SBP mission of putting a pool of players who will be available for the national team for future competitions, including the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup, where the Philippines is one of the hosts.
Selected in the draft were Isaac Go (Terrafirma), Rey Suerte (Blackwater), Matt Nieto (NLEX), Allyn Bulanadi (Alaska) and Mike Nieto (ROS).
Having another shot at the top pick, Terrafirma is hoping of landing another solid player who could finally help them achieve consistency in winning.
In the two previous PBA drafts, the team selected CJ Perez (2018) and Roosevelt Adams (2019).
Mr. Perez has turned out to be one of the top players in the league, piling up all-around numbers of 24.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and two steals a game in the Philippine Cup last year. Mr. Adams, meanwhile, had his struggles in his rookie season but still managed to post respectable numbers of 10.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the number of applicants for the draft is steadily growing as the deadline approaches.
As per the official PBA website, 33 aspirants have already filed applications.
Among those who have applied are collegiate standouts, players from pro-am leagues and Filipino-foreigners like Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, Troy Rike, RK Ilagan, Frank Johnson, Tyrus Hill.
“I am looking forward to playing in the PBA. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. My mindset is if they can play in the PBA, why can’t I,” said Mr. Santillan in Filipino in submitting his application.
Mr. Santillan played collegiate ball in Cebu and at De La Salle University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. He is also one of the top 3×3 players in the country and has represented the Philippines in many FIBA 3×3-sanctioned events.
“It will be an honor to play in the PBA. And I vow to do everything I can to represent not only myself but also the community I came from,” said San Sebastian product Ilagan, who grew up in Tondo, Manila.
The status of keenly eyed Fil-foreign applicants Jason Brickman, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Jeremiah Gray, meanwhile, is still to be determined as reports have it that legal documents needed for them to join the draft will not come in time for the application deadline.