WHO’S the biggest winner in the recent PBA Gatorade Annual Rookie Draft?
Most feel Alaska hit the jackpot.
Drafting at No. 5, the Aces surprisingly found former Asean Basketball League (ABL) star guard Chris Banchero still available that they lost no time taking in the Fil-Italian sentinel.
Coach Alex Compton admitted the entry of the good-looking cager at Alaska is like a manna from heaven as the team now has the luxury of combining the high-scoring guard with the prolific backcourt tandem of Cyrus Baguio and JV Casio, with support from veteran Dondon Hontiveros.
“It was a surprise for everyone that Banchero was still available for Alaska. They’re the biggest winner in the draft. My own opinion, he is going to be an impact player right away,” said former Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren.
“Banchero has a very high basketball IQ. If you need him to score, he can score,” he added.
Pumaren, the same man who patiently built a ragtag Air21 side into a playoff contender last season, also considered the other intangibles Banchero can bring to the Aces.
“His entry will be very beneficial to JV Casio and the whole team. If you look at the playing time of the (Alaska) stars, mababawasan `yun with the entry of Banchero,” said Pumaren, who served as one of the TV anchors during draft day.
“Imagine the load of the Aces stars last season. May luxury na ngayon na mag-rotate at mag-pahinga ng key players ang Alaska plus Banchero can also be switched to a two-guard,” he added. “Imagine him and JV together dagdag mo pa sina Calvin Abueva, Cyrus Baguio at Sonny Thoss.”
Bong Ramos, who served as director of the last PBA rookie camp, however, considered GlobalPort as the team that improved most following the draft.
“I think malaking bagay na nakuha ng GlobalPort `yung Stanley Pringle. The guy is a game changer. He can dominate the scoring, he can involve his teammates,” said Ramos.
“Nakita mo naman nung rookie camp. Hindi pa buhos yung laro pero ang daming ginawa,” added the four-peat champion coach of team Aspac in Indonesia.
Aside from Pringle, Globalport also strengthened its frontline by tabbing Anthony Semerad and Prince Caperal.
“I am happy with our picks. May Pringle na kami, naka-tsamba pa ko ng Anthony Semerad sa (number) seven, tapos inabutan ko pa ang Prince Caperal sa 17th pick,” said an elated team owner Mikee Romero.
Also in the winner’s list is expansion team Blackwater Sports of owner Dioceldo Sy,
Aside from getting guard Juami Tiongson, the most consistent player for the team during its campaign in the last Penang Invitationals in Malaysia, Blackwater Sports also tabbed draft sleepers Frank Golla, Juneric Baloria, Maclean Sabellina, and Raul Soyud.
“I think we have a team here. Imagine ang lalaki ng nakuha namin. Tapos may mga quality guards pa kami,” said Sy, whose team also picked up former UST guard Clark Bautista and Ford Ruaya.
“I am happy kasi we are slowly building an Elite team that will evolve around our elite cagers in former Ateneo stars Juami Tiongson, JP Erram, Bacon Austria, and Golla. Eh di nasa amin na ang core ng five-peat champion team ng Ateneo. Perfect fit for our moniker,” added the Ever Bilena Cosmetics president.
Rain or Shine had among the very intriguing picks especially after the big changes in its draft plans following the uncertainty surrounding the fate of top guard Paul Lee.
In what could be a major statement in reply to Lee’s demand to be traded, the Elasto Painters drafted a handful of young backcourt talents in Kevin Alas, Jerico Cruz, and Mike Gamboa who were joined in the team by 14th overall pick Kevin Espinosa.
“Like what coach Yeng (Guiao) has been saying, hindi mga Paul Lee replacement ang kinuha namin. They are insurance players. Of course, we’re still in the hunt for a big man. `Yun na lang kulang namin eh,” said Guiao’s assistant Caloy Garcia.
Also considered winner in the last draft is Barangay Ginebra, which selected former Adamson star Rodney Brondial at No. 6.
Ex-Ginebra stalwart Marlou Aquino, now an assistant coach at Adamson, believed Brondial can be a very good addition to the already formidable frontline of the league’s crowd darlings.
“Malaking dagdag sa frontline ng Ginebra si Brondial, kasi nakikipag-palitan ng mukha sa ilalim `yun. At least, sa pagpasok ni Brondial, mababawasan ng load sa ilalim `yung Gregory Slaughter at Japeth Aguilar,” Aquino noted.
“Saka magandang reliever kay Japeth `yung Brondial. Scrappy yan eh at saka nakikipag-sabayan sa banggaan. Ang mga Falcons, alam mo naman matatapang yan,” said the 6-foot-9 Aquino, who once played for Adamson.
Barako Bull continued to inject young blood into its aging team by picking Jake Pascual and David Semerad, both from San Beda, while newcomer NLEX improved its lineup with Matt Rosser at No. 4.
Meanwhile, San Miguel’s decision to get sweet shooting Gilas cadet Ronald Pascual has drawn mixed reactions.
The Beermen made the biggest surprise on draft day when they traded for the No. 3 pick of Barako Bull, and then used it to select Pascual instead of Banchero, who was part of the San Miguel team that won the ABL championship last season.
With a very erratic backcourt last season, the Beermen were expected to fix that problem by tabbing Banchero for both guard spots.
But the team decided to load up more on its wing by drafting Pascual, who joins Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and Ronald Tubid in an already crowded forward spot for the Beermen.
Another team that coaches felt didn't take a step forward on draft day was expansion team Kia Motors.
The Sorento may have gained one of the loudest cheers from the crown when they made boxing star Manny Pacquiao their first ever first round pick (at No. 11).
Kia actually had the most number of picks with 13, but aside from Pacquiao, the team also made surprise decisions by taking unheralded players in Rene Pacquiao, Kenneth Ighalo, Paolo Taha, Jeremy Bartolo, Anthony Gavieres, Richard Cole, Giorgio Umali, Michael Acuna, Mark Andrei Romero, and Francis Bercede.
The only prominent name the Columbian Autocar Corporation team got was former San Beda Red Lion big man Kyle Pascual.
Meanwhile, here is a quick rundown of the 2014 PBA draft.
1. Globalport – Stanley Pringle
2. Rain or Shine – Kevin Louie Alas
3. San Miguel – Ronald Pascual
4. NLEX – Matt Rosser
5. Alaska – Chris Banchero
6. Ginebra – Rodney Brondial
7. Globalport – Anthony Semerad
8. Barako Bull – Jake Pascual
9. Rain or Shine – Jerico Cruz
10. Barako Bull – Davi Semerad
11. Kia Motors – Manny Pacquiao
12. Blackwater Sports – Juami Tiongson
1. Alaska – Rome Dela Rosa
2. Rain or Shine - Kevin Espinosa
3. Barako Bull – Philip Paredes
4. Alaska – Junjun Alas
5. Globalport – Prince Caperal
6. Barako Bull – Philip Morrison
7. Globalport – John Pinto
8. Talk n Text – Harold Arboleda
9. Rain or Shine – Mike Gamboa
10. San Miguel – Gab Banal
11. Blackwater Sports – Frank Golla
12. Kia Motors – Kyle PAscual
1. Kia Motors- Rene Pacquiao
2. Blackwater Sports- Bryan Heruela
3. Blackwater Sports – Maclean Sabellina
4. Kia Motors – Kennth Ighalo
5. Kia Motors – Paolo Taha
6. Blackwater Sports – Juneric Baloria
7. Blackwater Sports – Raul Soyud
8. Kia Motors – Jeremy Bartolo
9. Kia Motors – Anthony Gavieres
10. Blackwater Sports –Clark Bautista
11. Blackwater Sports – Ford Ruaya
12. Kia Motors - Richard Cole
13. Kia Motors – Giorgio Umali
14. Kia Motors – Jonathan Banal
15. Kia Motors – Michael Acuna
16. Kia Motors – Mark Andrei Romero
17. Kia Motors – Francis Bercede