A BIG man full of potential, the reigning king of the NCAA, the PBA D-League MVP, a former Smart Gilas-Pilipinas training pool member, and a slew of talented Fil-Ams comprise the field of 61 aspirants who have so far applied for the PBA Annual Draft set three weeks from now at the Robinsons Midtown Manila.
Cebuano June Mar Fajardo added a spice of thrill in the August 19 event when he formally submitted his papers at the PBA office on Monday and joined a talented draft pool that already included San Sebastian stalwart Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel, recipients of the MVP award in the NCAA and D-League, respectively, one-time national player Aldrech Ramos and foreign-born players Chris Ellis, Cliff Hodge, Jason Deutchman, Charles Keith Jensen, and Alex Mallari.
Deadline for local players wishing to join the league’s first formal activity for its 38th season is on Friday.
Air21 owns this year’s top overall pick, although the rights have since been traded to Petron. And the Boosters have not been reticent about their fondness for the 6-10 Fajardo, the 22-year-old who played for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League.
Fajardo, born in Compostela, Cebu, has been the dominant big man down South the past four years, winning two MVP titles and steering the University of Cebu Webmasters to back-to-back championships in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. or more popularly known as Cesafi.
He once rivaled fellow big man Greg Slaughter of the University of the Visayas, until the Fil-Am center went to the Big City and transferred to Ateneo.
But this year’s draft is more than just about the Fajardos, Abuevas, Manuels, and the Hodges.
Other familiar names include Ronald Pascual, who along with Abueva and Ian Sangalang form the Stags’ dreaded `Big Three,’ big man Dave Marcelo who played a key role in San Beda’s back-to-back NCAA championships, Jewel Ponferada, Eman Monfort of four-time UAAP title holder Ateneo, former Far Eastern University gunner JR Cawaling, and the Adamson quartet of Lester Alvarez, Janus Lozada, Jerick Canada, and Jan Colina.
Then there’s also the second generation of players such as Raymond Austria, Paul Gonzalgo, Danilo Pribhdas Jr., and Paul Zamar.
All rookie aspirants will undergo the regular biometrics procedure on August 15, before the league issues the final list of candidates on August 16.
Powerade used last year’s no. 1 overall pick on JV Casio, who lost out to no. 2 Paul Lee of Rain or Shine for the coveted Rookie of the Year title in the recent Annual Leo Awards.