THE waiting game ends for 57 rookie aspirants on Sunday as the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) holds its Annual Draft at the Midtown Robinson’s Place Manila.
Owner of this year’s first overall pick in the event that serves as the first official function for the 38th season of Asia’s pioneering pro league, Petron already ended the suspense a few weeks ago when it declared it is using the selection to tab on 6-foot-9 University of Cebu stalwart June Mar Fajardo.
Of course, that’s unless the Boosters would have a last minute change of heart in this Draft that is perhaps one of the deepest in terms of talent in recent years.
With Fajardo given as the top pick, all eyes will be on Alaska which selects at no. 2. Reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Abueva admitted having been informed by the Aces that they would use the pick on him, although coach Luigi Trillo would rather keep his choice to himself and his staff.
The Boosters again select at no.3, followed by Meralco, and Barako Bull.
The Rookie Draft also formally welcomes new franchise Global Port Batang Pier to the league, two days after being accepted as the 10th member team by the PBA Board.
After buying the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. franchise lock, stock, and barrel, team owner Mikee Romero will also try to bolster the Batang Pier roster through the Draft as they select at no. 10 to end the first round proceedings.
Selecting at no. 6 is Ginebra San Miguel, the first of the team’s first round choices aside from no. 8. Reigning Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine selects at no. 7, while B-Meg takes its turn at no.9.
Originally pegged at a total of 71 rookie applicants, the list has been trimmed to just 57 on Thursday, but remains rich in talent in what many perceive as one of the deepest Drafts in recent years.
Among those being prominently mentioned include reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Abueva, former Smart Gilas team captain Chris Tiu, Aldrech Ramos, Vic Manuel, Dave Marcelo, Jewel Ponferada, Eman Monfort, Jan Colina, Lester Alvarez, Janus Lozada, Jerick Canada, and Fil-Ams Cliff Hodge, Chris Ellis, Jason Deutchman, Charles Keith Jansen, and Alex Mallari.
“Thanks for all the good luck messages! Big day tom! Ganito pala feeling before d drafting. Let's all hope for the best,” tweeted Tiu in his account @chris_tiu.
The order of selection in the second round will have Air21 picking first, followed by B-Meg at 12th and 13th, respectively, then Global Port (14th), Barako (15th and 16th), Rain or Shine (17th), Barako Bull (18th), Alaska (19th) and Talk `N Text (20th).
League commissioner Chito Salud will preside over the program that starts at 4 p.m. together with Board chairman Robert Non of Ginebra San Miguel.