By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
ENTERING last weekend’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rookie draft, the Meralco Bolts and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters were seeking to address some of the teams’ needs, something they felt they were able to achieve with the picks they got.
The Bolts selected former University of the East gunner and national 3×3 player Alvin Pasaol ninth overall in the draft, while the Elasto Painters went for De La Salle University big man and three-on-three baller Santi Santillan for the fifth pick.
“We are quite happy to welcome Alvin Pasaol into the Meralco Bolts team. We were hoping he might drop to us (at No. 9) and it happened,” Meralco coach Norman Black was quoted as saying by the official PBA Website following the draft.
Mr. Pasaol is expected to provide fire power to the Meralco offense much like what he did with the Red Warriors at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
“We have been a very solid basketball team defensively the past few years. Our hope is that Alvin can be a force on offense and he will give us someone who can create his own shot,” Mr. Black said.
Mr. Pasaol joins Mac Belo, formerly of Blackwater, in shoring up the offensive attack of the Bolts.
Meralco made it all the way to the semifinals of the lone PBA tournament in 2020 — the Philippine Cup — and is looking to sustain the good play it had in said competition when the league opens its new season.
“I’m excited to join the team and learn from Coach Norman Black,” said Mr. Pasaol, who is part of the team set to represent the country in the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in May.
After Mr. Pasaol, the Bolts took John Yusa and Luis Brill in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
Mr. Black said they will look at these players in practice and see where they fit.
RAIN OR SHINE PICKS
Meanwhile, newly promoted Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina, too, is pleased with the players they got and excited to work with them as they prepare for the next PBA season.
“When we held our annual draft meeting with the Rain or Shine bosses as well as myself and our staff, we all came to the consensus that we would target players that were not only the best available talent, but also have displayed a great deal of character, grit and toughness throughout their playing career,” Mr. Gavina said as quoted by pba.ph.
Six-foot-five Santillan, who previously paraded his wares in the local 3×3 circuit after finishing his UAAP career with La Salle, is seen providing added ceiling and tenacity to Rain or Shine’s frontcourt.
“Santi Santillan is a known bruiser with a knack for rebounding and willingness to do the little things to help his team win. He carries himself with extreme dignity and poise under fire,” said Mr. Gavina of the fifth overall pick.
Mr. Santillan joins veterans Beau Belga, Jewel Ponferada, Norbert Torres, and Mark Borboran in the big man rotation of the Elasto Painters.
Rain or Shine also selected in the second round Filipino-foreign player Franky Johnson (17th) and collegiate standouts Anton Asistio (22nd) and Andrei Caracut (23rd).
They are considered to have strong roster spot claims with their ability to create shots not only for themselves, but also for their teammates.
Rain or Shine faltered in the PBA bubble last year. Despite starting the tournament strong, it barely made it to the playoffs with a 6-5 record. It lost to eventual champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in the quarterfinals.
The PBA is targeting to begin its Season 46 on April 11 pending approval from the government over health and safety concerns in relation to the pandemic.