BARANGAY Ginebra will get first crack at one of the finest rookie draft classes in years when Air21 won the draft lottery held at halftime of Game One of the PBA Governors Cup Finals on Friday night.
Air21's first-round pick is owned by Ginebra owing to a previous trade transaction and it turned into gold when the Express, represented by assistant team manager Dandy Henares, won a lottery where it had two balls in the box against the one of Globalport.
That pick could now mean either seven-foot center Greg Slaughter or agile 6-7 big man Ian Sangalang. Either way, it would give Ginebra a dominant man in the middle - something the Kings have not had since the glory days of Marlou Aquino and Erik Menk.
Globalport ended up with the second pick overall in the November 3 draft at Robinson's Place in Manila, although the rights went straight to San Mig Coffee owing to a previous trade.
Ginebra governor Robert Non had told Spin.ph on Thursday that the league's most popular ballclub can't go wrong with either of the two, although he made it clear that he would leave it up to the coaches to make the final decison.
[For full story, see You can't go wrong with either Sangalang or Slaughter, says Non]
However, sources have told Spin.ph that Ginebra coaches are leaning toward Sangalang, a former NCAA MVP whose skills are likened to those of four-time league MVP Ramon Fernandez.
[For full story, see Ginebra plans to pick Sangalang over Slaughter - unless Parks changes its plans]
The last time the Ginebra franchise picked first was in 1996 when the team, then known as Gordon’s Gin, drafted the 6-foot-9 Aquino.
Outside the two top big men from the amateur leagues, other notable names in the draft include Letran center Raymond Almazan, former Ateneo players Nico Salva and Justin Chua as well as former University of Santo Tomas guard Jeric Fortuna.
National University’s Bobby Ray Parks, the former two-time UAAP MVP, has yet to make a final decision on whether to join the draft or not as of posting time.
The deadline for application for players eligible for the draft is October 18.