WHILE top players from the big collegiate leagues shone bright as expected, Jon Gabriel can only hope he has done enough to get noticed by the coaches and scouts at the PBA Draft Combine.
Colegio de San Lorenzo big man Gabriel is hoping to follow in the footsteps of CEU’ Samboy de Leon as players from the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) to be drafted in the PBA.
De Leon was picked by Star in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.
While the 6-foot-6 Gabriel did make some baskets in the mini-tournament, the big names such as Kiefer Ravena and Jason Perkins led the top performers, as expected.
Still, the 24-year-old Gabriel is hoping his name will be called during the first event of the new season on Sunday at the Robinsons Place Manila.
“Excited kasi malapit na,” said Gabriel when asked about Sunday's rookie showcase. “Nagpapakundisyon talaga. Sayang din. Nandito na ako. Kailangan kunin ko na.”
A standout at the barangay level, Gabriel readily agreed when asked by head coach Bonnie Garcia to join the Griffins. He said stints in the UCBL has given him the confidence to aim for greater heights.
Gabriel averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.71 assists in Season 2 of the UCBL.
“Na-discover ako sa Tarlac sa inter-barangay,” Gabriel related. “Kinausap ako, pumunta agad ako kasi Maynila ‘to. Kapag sinabi mong Maynila, nandito na ‘yung mga magagaling na manlalaro.”
“Ang laki, siguro mga 80 percent,” said Gabriel when asked how big the UCBL stint was for his basketball career. “Dahil magpapa-draft ako sa PBA. Kailangan ko magpakita.”