TWENTY rookies, 20 transferees and four returnees.
Those numbers marked the opening-day rosters for the 2012-13 PBA Philippine Cup which begins Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Top pick overall June Mar Fajardo of Petron Blaze leads this year’s freshman class, 18 of which are on active rosters and two on the reserve list.
The list of rookies doesn’t include second overall pick Calvin Abueva, who is still finishing his college-basketball duties for the San Sebastian Stags before joining Alaska in the coming all-Filipino tourney.
Air21’s Simon Atkins is the only rookie to grab a roster spot this season despite not chosen in the first or second round of the draft.
Also among the rookies is Global Port’s Angelus Raymundo, who was not selected in the 2008 draft but has finally fulfilled his dream of making it to the pros. At 30 years, four months and a week old by Sunday, the former San Beda-Alabang standout will be the most senior among this year’s rookies, and the oldest in the league since Lou Gatumbato, then 31, saw action also for Air21 two seasons ago.
Heading the 20 players which will be wearing new uniforms in the coming Philippine Cup are two-time MVP Willie Miller of Global Port, 2012 Jones Cup MVP LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick JVee Casio of Alaska and five-time slam dunk champion KG Canaleta of Air21.
The four balik-PBA players, three of them coming off stints in the Asian Basketball League, are Roger Yap of Barako Bull, Chris Pacana of San Mig Coffee, Marvin Cruz of Global Port, and Eddie Laure of Alaska.
Also noticeable on the opening-day rosters are new Petron Blaze head coach Olsen Racela and Talk ‘N Text counterpart Nash Racela, who will be the first brothers in PBA history to assume head-coaching duties at the same time.
Olsen takes over from Ato Agustin while Nash is temporarily assuming the head-coaching post until incoming head mentor Norman Black wraps up his duties with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP Final Four.
Curiously, the Racela brothers headed the coaching staff of the Energen Philippine 18-and-under national team which finished sixth in the Fiba Asia 18-under wars last August.