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PBA Expansion Draft today

JUNEMAR Fajardo and Danny Ildefonso

by Waylon Galvez

Manila, Philippines – Newcomers Blackwater Sports and Kia Motors take the first step in forming their respective teams today as the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) holds an Expansion Draft at its headquarters in Libis, Quezon City.

Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy has already expressed his desire to select forward Larry Rodriguez, one of two players left unprotected by Rain or Shine for the Expansion Draft.

Kia, to be mentored by eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, has remained silent on who the new franchise will select although sources said the team is likely to tab former two-time league MVP Danny Ildefonso.

Although the 6-foot-5 center has lost his steps due to various injuries after playing 16 seasons in the PBA, including the first 15 years with San Miguel Beer, Ildefonso remains a threat on both ends of the court.

The presence of Ildefonso will also help a young team like Kia, or even Blackwater if it decides to change its mind and pass up on the 6-foot-4 Rodriguez, who played for Blackwater Coach Leo Isaac during his tenure with the original Barako Bull franchise.

The PBA Commissioner’s Office did not issue the list of unprotected players submitted by the 10 original teams, but sources said it includes the names of Rodriguez, Ildefonso, Paul Artadi and Eddie Laure.

The team that will pick first will also be known today.

No media outlet will be allowed to witness the proceeding.

It will be the first Expansion Draft since Batang Red Bull entered the league in 2000.

Aside from today’s proceedings, the two teams will also take part in the Rookie Draft on Aug. 24 at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.

On the other hand, a source said that Pacquiao is now doubtful to attend the Expansion Draft because his wife Jinkee is in the hospital in General Santos City. Two days ago, Pacquiao’s business manager Eric Pineda said that the boxing icon would be present to represent Kia.

Pacquiao, who has been designated by Kia as coach of its basketball team as part of its marketing strategy, also expressed his intentions to play in the PBA.

If the 36-year-old Pacquiao, a congressman in the Province of Sarangani, pushes through with his earlier plans to attend the Expansion Draft, a source said he might also submit his application for the PBA Rookie Draft.

But if Pacquiao doesn’t show up today, he has until Aug. 13, the deadline for application among the local amateurs. The deadline for Fil-foreign cagers ended last July 8.