[Editor's note: Third of a series]
BEING a guard in the PBA takes more than just being good -- you have to be great.
Year in and year out, backcourt players come to the league in droves, hoping to crack a coveted roster spot in one of the 12 ballclubs.
This year is no different, and with this class being labeled as one of the deepest in years, it's just right that we have two parts dedicated in putting these guards under the microscope.
For the third part of this series, Spin.ph selects who we feel are the top Fil-foreign guards in this year's pool.
Players in this list are those who did not play in our local collegiate leagues and instead, made their names elsewhere before making the leap to the PBA.
Here are who we selected:
Joshua Munzon (Cal State Los Angeles)
The prospective top selection is the first guard that comes to mind and why shouldn't he?
Wherever Munzon played, he always found a way to shine being a complete package, with teams loving his creativity in scoring the rock.
From his time in NCAA Division II school Cal State Los Angeles, the Fil-Am was a walking bucket as he posted 12.9 points on 37-percent shooting, to go with 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.7 assists in 34.9 minutes in his senior year with the Golden Eagles back in the 2015-16 season.
He finetuned his defense when he got to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), racking 19.4 points, 4.1 boards, 3.2 steals, and 3.1 assists for the Saigon Heat and improving his numbers to 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals for the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
And even when AMA Online Education tapped him as the top pick in the PBA D-League, he proved that he's worth the hype, collecting 35.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists before making his mark in the 3x3 circuit and emerged as the top ranked 3x3 player in the Philippines.
Without question, Munzon is a certified franchise player, one teams would be willing to entrust their offense to and, if Terrafirma indeed picks him, its future.
Jason Brickman (Long Island)
For the longest time, coaches and scouts alike branded Brickman as the best talent to not play in the PBA.
And they had every reason to, with the Fil-Am court general being a true point guard extraordinaire with his A-plus court vision and impeccable leadership skills, so much so that his numbers do little to justify his worth on the court.
In his senior year in Long Island back in the 2013-14 season, Brickman racked 11.3 points on 40-percent from threes, alongside 9.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 37.0 minutes as he became only the fourth player in NCAA Division I history to dish out 1,000 assists.
That stupendous playmaking propelled him to be a sought after talent in Europe, where he saw action for Medi Bayreuth in the top-tier Basketball Bundesliga in Germany back in 2014 and tallied 7.5 points on 49-percent clip from threes, to go with 4.8 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 29.7 minutes, before a three-game stint with Dynamo Moscow in the Baltic Basketball League in 2015.
It was only a matter of time before he got closer to the Philippines, playing in the ABL and leading the Westports Malaysia Dragons to the 2016 crown behind his 13.2 points, 10.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steal, numbers which earned him the Finals MVP trophy.
Brickman also led Thai side Mono Vampire to the Finals in 2018 and was actually the assists leader in the regional league for three of the last five seasons, including in the truncated 2019-20 season when he had 8.9 points on a 45-percent shooting clip, as well as 9.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas.
His short go-rounds with Mighty Sports only reiterated his position among the elite players outside of the PBA, which should make him an appetizing prospect to tab come draft day.
Mikey Williams (San Francisco/ Cal State Fullerton)
Williams may not be as popular as the first two, but the public better familiarize themselves on this guy's name.
There's a reason why coaches gush over what the Fil-Am guard brings to the table, and we won't be shocked if he suddenly shoot up the draft boards for all 12 teams.
After all, Williams is a legit baller, one who has a bonafide NCAA Division I experience first for University of San Francisco where he played his first three seasons before transferring to Cal State Fullerton for his senior year, posting 17.3 points on 36-percent shooting from threes, alongside 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 34.6 minutes in the 2013-14 season.
Although he did not make it to the NBA, the Fil-Am slasher made a good account of himself in his three seasons in the NBA D-League (now G League) with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Canton Charge. His best campaign came in the 2016-17 season, his first for Canton, where he had 5.6 points on 41-percent shooting, to go with 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 18.1 minutes to help the Charge reach the playoffs.
Williams further showed his explosive scoring ability in his brief run for Saigon Heat in the ABL, notching 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.0 steal in the 2017-18 season, before playing for Mighty Sports and eventually in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), where he poured 15.9 points on 38-percent three-point shooting, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 31.8 minutes for the GenSan Warriors.
Jeremiah Gray (Dominican)
Of the Fil-foreign guards in this list, Gray has the highest upside.
At 24 years of age, the Fil-Am highlight machine was already showing great potential dating back in his time for NCAA Division II school Dominican University, where he unloaded 18.9 points on 34-percent shooting, as well as 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 34.0 minutes in his senior year with the Penguins.
The high-leaping guard continued to develop his game when he went to BBC Sparta Bertrange as he played in Total League, the top-tier league in Luxembourg, and racked 20.0 points on 31-percent shooting, to go with 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 assist in 31.6 minutes in three games.
After a brief run in Thailand for PEA and for Mighty Sports in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament, Gray found his way to Alab, posting 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 blocks. He actually was looking like he was just getting his groove on before the pandemic forced the ABL to cancel the season.
Nevertheless, Gray's development continued even during the health crisis, having a two-inch growth spurt as he spent his time in the United States and saw action for Team Hines in The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
No question, teams would love to see what Gray brings to the table: a young, athletic guard whose versatility on both ends of the court is certainly a valuable investment for any team who picks him.
Franky Johnson (Warner Pacific)
All eyes may be on Munzon, but truth be told, Johnson also deserves a long, hard look from PBA ballclubs.
The Fil-Am slasher is just as potent as the projected top selection, one who has proven himself capable of providing a solid jolt of offense for the teams he played for.
Johnson did just that back in his college days playing for NCAA Division II school Warner Pacific where he had 11.2 points on 33-percent shooting, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steal in 18.5 minutes for the Knights in the 2015-16.
When he got to the country, he immediately buckled down to work in the PBA D-League, suiting up for Gamboa Coffee Mix and Marinerong Pilipino as he became one of the most underrated guards in the developmental ranks. The proof, though, is in the pudding, with him further showcasing his scoring and defensive abilities for AMA Online Education in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup, where he logged 22.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.
His stint in the 3x3 circuit, where he ended up ranked no. 8 in the Philippines in the halfcourt game, only fortified his case as he heads to the draft as a sleeper first-rounder for teams looking to get a reliable scoring option who won't back down from any opposition.
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