PBA commissioner Chito Salud is among those excited about this Sunday’s rookie draft at the Robinson’s Place in Manila.
A record batch of 71 players has applied for the August 19 event in what could be considered one of the deepest draft pools ever in the 38-year history of the pro league.
Although the number is expected to be trimmed come Draft Day, Salud still expects a bumper crop of rookies this season.
“I’m happy with the draft pool,” Salud told Spin.ph on Wednesday. “Personally, I may be wrong, but I can see that 15 to 20 players might be able to get a contract. That’s my conservative assessment. “
June Mar Fajardo, who suited up for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League, is being tipped to be the No. 1 overall pick by Petron, and yet numerous marquee players are still available down the line after him.
The presence of homegrown stars Calvin Abueva and Ronald Pascual, Fil-Americans Alex Mallari, Chris Ellis and Cliff Hodge, along with former Smart Gilas standout Chris Tiu, have obviously deepened the pool of draftees.
Twenty-four players were drafted out of the 36 included in the rookie pool last year, and Salud said that could be easily surpassed.
The commissioner said he is looking forward to the coming season as the entry of promising rookies will definitely raise the level of play in the PBA.
“The new players will be bringing in new blood and talent which will elevate the quality of the league. Every year, it’s a time for hope,” said Salud.