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    Here's how 2000 PBA draft will look if we include direct hires from MBA, PBL

    May 26, 2020

    WHEN discussions on the best draft classes in PBA history are being curated, you will never hear the 2000 batch being thrown in.

    So much so that many even regard this class as one of the worst, with none of the first-round selections, or even any other player taken in the usual draft order, making it to any Mythical Team.

    Yet looking deeper in the history books, that really shouldn't be the case. And there's only two words to explain that: direct hires.

    Fifteen players were directly signed by PBA ballclubs outside of the annual draft proceedings due to the then-existing rule allowing players from the rival Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) to sign contracts with any teams like free agents.

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    League newcomer Red Bull scooped up seven of those players, six of which were elevated from its team in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL).

    Incredibly, eight of these direct hires have gotten the nod to be members of the league's Mythical Teams throughout their careers.

    Had this followed the regular order of business, this batch would have certainly earned its place among the best classes the league has ever seen.

    With that, Spin.ph decided to turn back the clock and do a redraft, factoring in everything these players have accomplished in their careers and looking how these differences would have made in their careers.

    Take a look on how the first round would have played out.

    (Editor's Note: The draft order used in the actual 2000 PBA Draft was followed in this proceedings.)

    1. Jayjay Helterbrand (Sta. Lucia)


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    Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Ginebra
    Who was picked on this spot? Paolo Mendoza

    There's a reason coach Ron Jacobs was very high on Helterbrand heading into the draft and wanted him to be the heir apparent to Bal David in Ginebra.

    Surely, coach Norman Black would have wanted this scenario to happen as he'll certainly relish having the Fil-Am guard out of Kentucky State at his disposal as they begin a new chapter with the Realtors.

    Learning from veterans Ronnie Magsanoc and Jack Santiago, Helterbrand would have easily seized the starting point guard role in Sta. Lucia, if not the keys to the kingdom as early as his rookie season.

    And just imagine the possibilties for him having to set up plays for Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino in the frontcourt.

    The Realtors made the Commissioner's Cup Finals this season, falling short to San Miguel in five games. Who knows how big of a difference Helterbrand would have done if he was wearing green at this time.

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      2. Kerby Raymundo (Pop Cola)


      Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Red Bull (elevated)
      Who was picked on this spot? Mark Steven Victoria

      Raymundo's claim to fame heading to the PBA was him becoming the second youngest to ever make it to the league at the age of 19.

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      Yet "The Kid" proved that he's built for greatness despite his age, as seen in how his career has transpired, majorly with Purefoods.

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        Had he gone through the draft, Raymundo would have certainly be an asset for the 800s of coach Chot Reyes, infusing youth to its frontline bannered by veterans Nelson Asaytono, Noli Locsin, and Zaldy Realubit.

        The standout from Letran would have battled for minutes in Pop Cola against those grizzled vets, as well as fellow upstarts Ali Peek and Estong Ballesteros, but he only needs a moment to get his shine on.

        3. Dondon Hontiveros (Purefoods)


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        Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Tanduay
        Who was picked on this spot? Dino Aldeguer

        Arguably the best shooter the league has ever seen since Allan Caidic, Hontiveros would have been a game changer the moment he lands on Purefoods.

        Yet, the Cebuano hotshot played instead at Tanduay before his rights were traded to San Miguel. But would things change had the TJ Hotdogs gotten his services?

        At Purefoods, Hontiveros will get his looks from deep, splitting time with Noy Castillo while also on the lookout for passes from court generals Boyet Fernandez and Dindo Pumaren.

        And his gunslinging style will be a perfect fit for the pressing style of coach Derrick Pumaren, with the TJ Hotdogs even making it to the Finals of that season's Governors' Cup.

        A championship in Hontiveros' first year in the PBA? We won't rule that one out.

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          4. Rudy Hatfield (Mobiline)


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          Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Tanduay
          Who was picked on this spot? Erwin Velez

          Can you imagine how terrorizing that Mobiline frontline would have been?

          Everyone knows the defensive tenacity the Fil-Am banger brings, as seen in his stops with Tanduay, Coca Cola, and Ginebra. Heck, "The H-Bomb" even earned his place in the Mythical Second Team in his neophyte year with the Rhum Masters.

          Hatfield, with his fearless style, would be the dream combo with a young Asi Taulava, who is only bracing for his third year in the league.

          Also, the Phone Pals still had veteran Jerry Codinera, who was still at the peak of his powers at the tender age of 33.

          Barring any of the controversies Taulava found himself in with regards to his Filipino citizenship this season, would this imposing frontline change the fate of coach Eric Altamirano, who was sacked midway through the All-Filipino Cup, and the campaign of Mobiline as a whole?

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            5. Davonn Harp (Red Bull)

            Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Red Bull (elevated)
            Who was picked on this spot? Ogie Gumatay

            Somehow, Harp still found his way to Red Bull.

            There were high hopes for the 6-foot-7 center from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania the moment he got to the PBA, so much so that he was a difference maker for the Yeng Guiao-coached Thunder in their first seasons in the league.

            Harp was named as this batch's Rookie of the Year, made it to the Mythical Second Team in his sophomore season, and even finished as runner-up to teammate Willie Miller for the MVP honors in his third year all while winning two championships in his five-year tenure.

            He was also the Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, as well as being the Best Player of the Conference and the Finals MVP in Red Bull's successful run in the 2002 Commissioner's Cup.

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            Unfortunately, the Fil-Am banger continuously found himself embroiled in the "Fil-Sham controversy" and never returned after 2005 even though the Department of Justice ruled in his favor, legitimizing his Filipino citizenship in 2009.

            6. Lordy Tugade (Ginebra)


            Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Red Bull (elevated)
            Who was picked on this spot? Egay Billones

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            Ginebra may be reeling from the retirement of "The Triggerman" heading into this season, but to us, the "Alaminos Assassin" is just the perfect replacement.

            Tugade is a surefire boost to the Kings' campaign, giving coach Allan Caidic a young gunner to complement veteran Vergel Meneses and winger Elmer Lago.

            The National University stud is a versatile two-way option, deadly enough to light up the scoreboards, while also agile to defend the opposition's best scorers.

            His arrival may very well be the x-factor Ginebra needs to breakthrough as it only made the quarterfinals in all three conferences this year.

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            7. Mick Pennisi (San Miguel)


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            Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Red Bull
            Who was picked on this spot? Jun Carmona

            Pennisi is a stretch-big ahead of his time: standing at 6-foot-11 who can work in the post but is also a dead-shot shooter when left open from deep.

            And the Fil-Aussie center arriving to San Miguel just gives coach Jong Uichico another dimension to his already killer frontcourt combo of Danny Seigle and Danny Ildefonso, who took home the first of his two MVP awards this season.

            Add Pennisi to a rotating frontcourt cast featuring veterans Freddie Abuda and Art dela Cruz, as well as young bloods Nic Belasco and Rob Duat, and the Beermen might just be a terror for everyone to draw.

            Well, they almost won the Grand Slam, ruling the import-laden conferences after losing in the semis to Alaska in the All-Filipino Cup.

            Pennisi did end up in SMB from 2008 to 2011, winning two championships with the franchise.

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              8. Junthy Valenzuela (Alaska)


              Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Red Bull (elevated)
              Who was picked on this spot? Glen Peter Yap

              Kenneth Duremdes was still on top of his game, but Alaska wouldn't mind having Valenzuela as his backup.

              The fearless Cebuano winger should fit in nicely in coach Tim Cone's Milkmen, injecting his spunk to a team filled with veterans like Bong Hawkins and Joey Loyzaga on the forward spots.

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              Valenzuela is as versatile as they come, dependable on the offensive end but is more than reliable on defense, as seen in him being named in the 2005 All-Defensive Team.

              Had Alaska got Valenzuela at this spot, this should easily be considered as the steal of the draft.

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                9. Rob Wainwright (Alaska)


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                Where was he selected? Direct Hire, Sta. Lucia
                Who was picked on this spot? Patrick Madarang

                How about adding another gunner to Alaska?

                Wainwright would definitely fortify the Milkmen's frontline, helping out mainstays Don Allado, Poch Juinio, Kevin Ramas, and Bryan Gahol.

                A plus for the Fil-Am Wainwright is his ability to stretch the floor, being as deadly as they come from deep while also helping out in the paint.

                Cone would be more than elated to add this former Cebu Gem to his draft haul.

                10. Wynne Arboleda (Sta. Lucia)


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                Where was he selected? Undrafted
                Who was picked on this spot? Randy Lopez

                Tough as nails, Arboleda may just be this draft's dark horse selection.

                This 5-foot-11 guard from Manuel L. Quezon University fell through the cracks but truly made the most of his chances when he got the break he needed, staying in the league for 15 years as he carved a reputation as a no-nonsense defender and even earned the moniker "The Snatcher."

                Arboleda was a four-time All-Defensive Team member, twice the league's Defensive Player of the Year, and even squeaked a spot in the Mythical Second Team in the 2006-2007 season.

                And had he went to Sta. Lucia, he'd be the rockhard reliever for the flashy Helterbrand, who was this redraft's pacesetter, as well as learning the ropes from Magsanoc and Santiago.

                Not really that bad of a draw for someone who went undrafted.

                Here's who were left in the field (original placing in the draft inside the parentheses) :

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                Paolo Mendoza (1st overall, Sta. Lucia)
                Mark Steven Victoria (2nd overall, Pop Cola)
                Dino Aldeguer (3rd overall, Purefoods)
                Erwin Velez (4th overall, Mobiline)
                Ogie Gumatay (5th overall, Red Bull)
                Egay Billones (6th overall, Red Bull)
                Jun Carmona (7th overall, San Miguel)
                Glen Peter Yap (8th overall, Alaska)
                Allan Gamboa (11th, Pop Cola)
                Allan Yu (16th, Tanduay)
                Don Camaso (Direct Hire, Mobiline)
                Alex Crisano (Direct Hire, Ginebra)
                Gherome Ejercito (Direct Hire, Mobiline)
                Ronald Magtulis (Direct Hire, Ginebra)
                Bernard Tanpua (Direct Hire, Red Bull - elevated)
                Jimwell Torion (Direct Hire, Red Bull - elevated)
                Chris Tan (Undrafted)

                Postscript: It's just interesting to see that no one of the 10 players selected in the first round of the actual 2000 PBA Draft made it there in our redraft.

                Considering the circumstances of that time, we do believe that Paolo Mendoza was truly worthy of his spot as the top pick of this class.

                The University of the Philippines standout spent 11 seasons in the league between Sta. Lucia and Powerade and averaged 7.5 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in his PBA career.

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                He remains as the last Fighting Maroon to be taken at the pole position, after Benjie Paras was picked first in 1989, of course.

                But for us, it just shows how big of an impact those direct hires have made in the early 2000s.

                And if they were forced to go through the draft process like everyone else, we could only imagine how different the league would have been today with those players landing in different teams and altering their fates.

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