SOME hoop dreams are about to become a reality as the PBA holds its annual draft on Sunday at Robinsons Place Manila.
The first two picks a foregone conclusion as Talk ‘N Text and Mahindra are expected to make Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario No. 1 and 2 in the proceedings starting at 2 p.m.
The mystery starts with the name new league commissioner Chito Narvasa will announce as the third pick, which Rain or Shine owns.
Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao has noted their need for a big man, but is also considering the best available talent that could become a go-to guy outside Paul Lee and Jeff Chan.
San Miguel Beer mentor Leo Austria, whose champion team has no draft picks yet he still attended the Combine as an obligation, rattled off some names Guiao can choose from.
“Kung kailangan nila ng big man, nandyan si (Norbert) Torres. Kung wingman naman, nandyan si (Chris) Newsome.”
“Kung point guard naman, meron dyang (Baser) Amer, (Scottie) Thompson, o (Josan) Nimes at merong mga Fil-Am na nagpapakita,” Austria added.
“Napakalalim ng draft especially sa wingmen and guards,” the champion mentor continued. “I wish meron akong pick dahil marami akong nagugustuhan.”
Ginebra coach Tim Cone agreed of the depth of the backcourt positions.
“It’s a really strong point-guard draft this year, stronger than I’ve seen maybe in the last four, five years.”
A total of 63 applicants are eager to hear their names called within an initial two-round draft, which continues with another round until all teams have passed up.
The Painters have the most picks in the first two rounds, owning the 13th, 15th, 17th, 19th, and 24th selections aside from the third pick.
Meralco owns the No. 4 pick, Ginebra at No. 5, NLEX at No. 6, the Bolts again at seventh, before Star Blackwater, NLEX, and Alaska make their respective selections.
We make our humble, educated predictions on who will land where – beginning with the third pick:
3. Rain or Shine – Norbert Torres / La Salle / PF / 6’6” ¼
The former La Salle stalwart is the best big man outside Tautuaa and Rosario, and he fills the Painters’ need, especially amid trade rumors involving Beau Belga.
4. Meralco - Scottie Thompson / University of Perpetual Help / G / 5’10” ¾
The Bolts may have gained Jimmy Alapag, but don’t expect the former Talk ‘N Text star point guard to play extensive minutes right away after coming out of retirement. Enter Thompson, once an off guard, who has learned to play lead guard evidenced by his MVP-type showing in the NCAA.
5. Ginebra - Chris Newsome / Ateneo / G/F / 6’1” ¾
With their scarcity of wingmen, expect the Gin Kings to select the Filipino-American cager, whose athleticism, versatility, and solid defense are qualities coach Tim Cone wants from his wings who fit into the Triangle offense.
6. NLEX – Baser Amer / San Beda / PG / 5’10” ½
Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez has long desired for help for de-facto point guard Jonas Villanueva and where else better can he find it? No other than in his former Red Lions ward, who’s the best pure point guard in this year’s draft.
7. Meralco - Garvo Lanete / San Beda / G / 6’1” 5/8
The former Red Lions gunner has been hampered by injuries the last two years, but his prolonged stayed in the amateurs has only made him ripe for the picking, giving the Bolts an extra scoring punch.
8. Star – Art dela Cruz / San Beda / F / 6’3”
Hotshots coach Jason Webb reiterated they will settle for the best talent that’s going to be available, but they’re definitely not settling for crumbs in the Red Lions star, who is a leading NCAA MVP candidate owing to his stellar all-around play.
9. Blackwater – Maverick Ahanmisi / University of Minnesota / G / 6’0” 5/8
Elite boss Dioceldo Sy has been vocal of his desire to tap the former University of Minnesota standout and Café France Baker, whose playmaking and versatility Blackwater badly needs.
10. NLEX – Bradwyn Guinto / San Sebastian / PF / 6’5” 1/8
The 23-year-old Golden Stags slotman will provide steadiness, scoring threat, and youth to the Road Warriors’ frontcourt rotation that’s led by Asi Taulava.
11. Alaska – Glenn Khobuntin / National University / F / 6’2”
Captain of the Bulldogs’ side that captured its first UAAP title in 60 years last season and part of the Gilas cadet squad that won the gold medal in the last Southeast Asian Games, Khobuntin will provide energy and hustle the Aces are known for.
12. ROS – Roi Sumang / University of the East / G / 5’8” ½
If coach Yeng does need another go-to guy like Paul Lee, he can find it in this other former Red Warriors’ spitfire guard, who’s a smaller version of his predecessor, but is likewise a big-time scorer and thrives in the clutch.
13. Blackwater – Simon Enciso – an explosive Fil-Am guard who patterns his game after that of Derrick Rose and whose name rattled off by Elite assistant coach Ariel Vanguardia as part of their wish list.
14. Mahindra – Josan Nimes – a high-scoring Mapua combo guard once handled by Enforcers coach Chito Victolero.
15. ROS – Kevin Racal – the Letran star has played under Painters assistant Caloy Garcia, who had said Racal has been ready for the pros since two years ago.
16. Ginebra – Denice Villamor – the 6-foot-3 former National University forward who can shoot the three-pointer has attended Ginebra workouts the past few weeks.
17. ROS - Almond Vosotros – a former La Salle playmaker and Gilas cadet who has a knack of taking making triples down the stretch.
18. Alaska – Leo de Vera – the former San Sebastian one-and-done standout can give the Aces versatility and three-point shooting, being able to play either forward spot.
19. ROS - Jerramy King – a California State University product and is PBA D-League scoring recording holder.
20. Barako Bull – Kris Rosales – the first pure Filipino to work out for some NBA teams in the past. Energy coach Koy Banal has stressed he won’t pass up on Rosales if he’s still available.
21. Alaska – Michael Mabulac – a Jose Rizal University stalwart, who can be a low-post threat for the Aces.
22. Barako – Keith Agovida – a former Arellano forward, who has. Energy coach Koy Banal was impressed of his former Arellano ward’s showing in the Draft Combine. It’s a second chance for the Chief, who declared for the draft for the second straight year after backing out last year.
23. Alaska – Mark Cruz - the small-sized, big-hearted playmaker has been at the forefront of Letran’s suffocating full-court press, the same defense that the Aces run.
24. ROS – Ryan Wetherell – a US Division I player, who went virtually unknown when he came to the country, before heralding his arrival with a solid showing in the Draft Combine, where he topped most skills tests.
And here some of the best talent left in a possible succeeding round:
Samboy de Leon
Mike di Gregorio