WITH the resumption of the PBA upon us, a few players will be making their debut in the league under unusual conditions as the Philippine Cup makes its much-awaited resumption inside the bubble in Pampanga.
A total of 23 rookies made it to the line-up of the 12 teams as they embark on their first season as a pro that will see them play a maximum of two months if their clubs are fortunate enough to make to the finals.
These are SPIN.ph’s rookies, one for each team, that could be deserving to be followed in the bubble. [Note: Phoenix has no rookie in the line-up]
Mike Ayonayon, NLEX
The third pick in last year’s PBA draft will enter the pro league battle tested having played an integral part in the San Juan Knights’ title run in the MPBL, and NLEX coach Yeng Guiao hasn’t hide the fact that Ayonayon was impressive in the Road Warriors’ build-up before the pandemic struck. During the recent season that was postponed, Ayonayon averaged 12 points per game for the Knights, a performance that he is capable of bringing for the Road Warriors.
Roosevelt Adams, Terrafirma
Adams’ team-up with fellow number one overall pick CJ Perez is something worth following. Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel expressed excitement over the partnership with Adams bringing three-point shooting, speed, and defense to the Dyip team eager to make some noise in the bubble. Once compared to the shooting of Marcio Lassiter, Adams already has a vast experience of high-level basketball before entering the PBA when he was part of Mighty Sports in the Dubai International Championship last year.
Maurice Shaw, Blackwater
Bouncing around in several countries including a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters, Shaw takes his act to a higher level as he brings his 6-foot-8 frame to Blackwater. The second pick in the PBA draft, Shaw is a storyline worth following as he makes his PBA debut at age 35. Blackwater coach Nash Racela admitted taking Shaw at No. 2 is a gamble that hopefully pays off.
Arvin Tolentino, Barangay Ginebra
Of the three rookies in the squad, Tolentino has the best impression in the eyes of Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, describing the former Far Eastern University cager’s skills as “off the charts.” In his final season in the UAAP, the 6-foot-5 Tolentino averaged 12.8 points and totaled 29 triples for the Tamaraws.
Aaron Black, Meralco
Rarely do a father-and-son tandem on one team happens in the PBA, and this season, we will be able to witness it as Aaron Black plays for his father Norman at Meralco in the bubble. The younger Black came to the PBA prepared for the tougher battles. He saw action for 14 games with the Quezon City Capitals in the MPBL Lakan Season and averaged 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.
Aris Dionisio, Magnolia
No longer an unheralded talent, Dionisio finally brings his act in the PBA after playing college at Philippine School of Business Administration and St. Clare College. Dionisio produced solid numbers for the Manila Stars in the MPBL, registering 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in the Lakan Season. With Marc Pingris not part of the bubble due to an injury, Dionisio is a serviceable player who will bring depth to the Hotshots frontcourt inside the bubble.
Sean Manganti, NorthPort
After he ended his college career, Manganti wanted to be remembered by Adamson as the guy who gave his all to the team. And that’s exactly what NorthPort will be getting when Manganti plays for the Batang Pier inside the bubble. Manganti actually has a chip on his shoulder, having failed to meet the minimum number of PBA D-League games to be eligible for the 2018 draft. A year of experience in the PBA D-League and the MPBL have definitely made Manganti even more prepared for the pro league.
Barkley Eboña, Alaska
With Nonoy Baclao moving to Meralco and Sonny Thoss opting out of the bubble, Alaska’s frontcourt has gotten younger for the bubble. One of the players that could standout for the Aces is Eboña. The rookie out of Far Eastern University has been doing the dirty work for the Aces, and with assistant coach Danny Ildefonso under his wings, Eboña could be an integral part of the Alaska rotation this conference.
Vince Tolentino, Rain or Shine
It was tough to pick who’s the rookie to watch for the Elastopainters as the team picked up solid first-year players that are capable of making an impact. We went with Tolentino because of his reputation as one of the most hard-nosed players in the amateur ranks, an attribute that fits the Rain or Shine mantra.
Kib Montalbo, TNT
The lone rookie of the Tropang GIGA in the bubble will have to earn his spot in the rotation, but expect the former La Salle standout to show his defense fortitude that he became known for when he enters the court for his new team.
Daniel de Guzman, San Miguel
De Guzman earned a spot in the Beermen rotation despite being the fourth rounder of San Miguel in the 2019 draft. The 42nd overall pick last year was the lowest draftee that cracked the line-up in the PBA bubble. De Guzman played college ball with the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology before bouncing to different MPBL teams.