Are you ready for this?
by Tito S. Talao
Manila, Philippines – This could be a weird PBA Rookie Draft, especially in the first round, if indeed rumors are true that Barako Bull is trading away its fourth, fifth and sixth picks on the floor today before Commissioner Chito Salud gets the ball rolling.
Not only will five of the potential first six draftees, including 7-footer Greg Slaughter, find their way to their respective ballclubs as a result of earlier deals, one round table at the lobby of Robinsons Place in Ermita might even turn up empty.
Picture this: Salud takes to the microphone and gives away Greg Slaughter to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with the lottery pick originally owned by Air21.
Next he sends off Ian Sangalang to No. 2 San Mig Coffee after a previous exchange agreement with Globalport. Then, with the third pick, Rain or Shine quietly grabs the next best talent available, Raymond Almazan.
Now the curtains rise for the bizarre part of the Draft.
Salud announces that Barako Bull is relinquishing its rights to the No. 4 pick to Barangay Ginebra for recently-injured Dylan Ababou, and that the Kings are using it to snare Fil-Am James Forrester.
(Ginebra fans break into wild applause while San Mig coach Tim Cone, who reportedly has his sights on Forrester, groans.)
The commissioner returns to the mike and proclaims that again Barako Bull is turning over its draft rights, this time the No. 5 pick, to Petron Blaze for Mark Isip and Magi Sison, and that the Boosters are harpooning Terence Romeo (or RR Garcia).
(Petron fans cheer the Energy Cola’s generosity.)
The No. 6 pick is up. Salud speaks loud and clear: Barako Bull needs a veteran point guard and gets Denok Miranda from Globalport. In return, the Energy Cola give up the rights to their third and last first round pick to the Batang Pier, who select Jeric Teng.
(The Robocop, Alvin Teng, Jeric’s father, shouts with joy.)
The Rookie Draft is essentially over; impatient sportswriters jump from their seats to do their interviews and write their stories.
Hopping from one table to another, oblivious of the continuing proceedings, they jam recorders in the face of the top six draftees, and at Ginebra coach Ato Agustin, San Mig’s Tim Cone, Rain or Shine’s Yeng Guiao, Petron’s Gee Abanilla, and Globalport’s Junel Baculi.
Numerous times, they pass an unoccupied table but take no notice.
Not even at the sign atop which reads “Barako Bull.”
Having fired Serbian coaching consultant Rajko Toroman, traded playmaking sensation Eman Monfort for a third-tier point guard, and thumbed its nose on three of the six brightest young stars in the pool – all potential franchise saviors – the Energy Cola must have felt their job was done and their presence in the Draft no longer necessary.
After all, what sense would there be in picking neophytes in the second, third and fourth rounds when one has no need for them in the first? And who’s there to welcome onstage?
Hence the empty table.
Anyway, much of this scenario is dependent on two things: Barako Bull agreeing to deal away any or all three first round picks, and Commissioner Salud actually approving them.
Without one, all this passes through the realm of speculation and out as false rumor.
But stranger things have been known to happen on Rookie Draft in the PBA. So don’t be in a rush to bet against this one.
Deals done in faraway places like Sydney are not so easily undone.