SAN Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone couldn’t hide his excitement over four major acquisitions from the rookie draft which should make the Mixers deeper and younger beginning next season.
The bountiful rookie harvest included two big men in Ian Sangalang (selected second overall) and Justin Chua (10th), an athletic point guard in Fil-Am Justin Melton (13th) and a swingman in JR Cawaling (30th).
Cone said outside the 6-foot-5 Sangalang, he felt Chua was a gem of a catch with the last pick of the first round because of his decent perimeter shooting size and the ability to guard big men on the low block.
“We wanted two bigs and we were looking at either for Chua or (Isaac) Holstein,” explained Cone after the draft that saw 44 of the record total 79 rookie hopefuls selected.
Cone, in fact, said he never thought Chua would still be available that late in the draft and in the process passed up on UST scoring machine Jeric Teng when the chance to grab the former Ateneo back-up center presented itself.
“I thought Chua is gonna go 5, 6 or 7 because when he came to our draft camp, he didn’t miss a shot, and that excited the coaching staff. He’s a big man who can shoot and he can defend big men,” he added.
Even Melton, the 5’11” guard from Angeles, Pampanga, caught the fancy of the multi-titled PBA mentor because of his athleticism.
“Melton is just too good of an athlete to pass up. He could jump out of the gym, incredibly quick, who just needs to work on his point guard skills and leadership skills,” said the 55-year-old San Mig bench tactician.
Since the reigning PBA Governors' Cup champions won't return to practice until November 11, Cone said he’ll begin working with Sangalang, Chua and Cawaling starting Wednesday to introduce them to his trademark triangle offense.
“We just have one week to prepare because we don’t start practice until Monday (November 11). I’ll try to work with the rookies and the coaching staff on Wednesday and Thursday,” said Cone.
“We’ll teach them some of the basics of the triangle (offense) and get (assistant coaches) Johnny (Abarrientos) and Jeff (Cariaso) to run the triangle with them so they’ll (rookies) have some basic before they go to camp.”