WHILE Isaac Holstein has been tagged a “project” and is not expected to make an immediate impact, Globalport coach Junel Baculi said picking a legitimate center in the first round made perfect sense.
Holstein, a Fil-American who spent most of his time with Big Chill in the PBA D-League as a back-up, was the surprise No. 7 pick overall in Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft.
Baculi explained that after Globalport picked guards Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia at fifth and sixth, respectively, the team needed to complement the new backcourt players with a young center - and Holstein fit the bill.
Holstein is expected to back up Enrico Villanueva, recently acquired by the Batang Pier from Barako Bull in a separate trade for former MVP Willie Miller and Hans Thiele.
Baculi also felt the 6-foot-7 Holstein wouldn’t have been available for their next pick at the 11th spot.
“We want to compensate by having a big guy after picking two straight guards. But we feel that hindi na namin siya maaabutan sa number 11 kasi kailangan namin ng back-up kay Enrico,” said Baculi.
The Globalport coach said they initially had interest in Justin Chua, another big man who has an outside range and was eventually picked by San Mig Coffee at No. 10.
“Pero parang duplication na kasi ’yun nila J-Wash (Jay Washington) and Jondan (Salvador). Mawawalan kami ng back-up center, that’s why we got (Holstein),” Baculi explained.
After playing college ball in West Virginia, Holstein pursued a basketball career in the Philippines and played for Big Chill in the PBA D-League. He also saw action for the Gilas cadets during a stint in Dubai.
Big Chill coach Robert Sison admitted Holstein still has to do a lot of work to improve his game, but he believes the young player could improve quickly because of his work ethic.
Sison pointed out that Holstein left everything in the United States just to live in the Philippines in hopes of playing professional basketball.
“He is a project but I think ang magpu-push sa kanya to get better is ’yung iniwan niya sa Amerika. He gave up everything there,” Sison said.
“He needs to get better in the PBA. He needs the support which I think he will get naman at Globalport,” said Sison.
Baculi agrees that Holstein is still a project, but sees tremendous potential in him.
“That is why back-up muna siya,” said Baculi. "You can’t teach height."