The changing of the guards, literally, in the Philippine Basketball Association isn’t about to take place for at least two or three more seasons. But incoming PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio believes this is about as good time as any for the young turks to start perfecting their crossover moves and dribble-drives for their eventual takeover.
Gregorio, the Talk ‘N Text board representative, will assume chairmanship from outgoing Meralco Bolts governor Ramon Segismundo during the Aug. 24 Rookie Draft at Robinson’s Place and he sees playmakers and shooting guards, homegrown and Fil-foreign, dominating the first round.
“Puro uno-dos,” he says, referring to the point guard and off-guard spots. “I think puro guwardiya ang makukuha sa top 10.”
The apparent glut in the pro market for 5-foot-10, 6-foot-1 ball-handlers and three-point shooters in this year’s draft, Gegorio says, balances the arrival of shot-swatting and power rebounding big men in the last few seasons.
“Don’t forget that in the last four drafts, puro big men tayo – Japeth [Aguilar], [Rabeh] Al- Hussaini, June Mar [Fajardo], [Greg] Slaughter and [Raymond] Almazan,” says Gregorio. “Nagshift lang ang focus ngayon sa 1-2 position.”
Still, he doesn’t foresee the incoming rookies, as talented as they are, posing any immediate threat to established stars like Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Jayvee Casio, Alex Cabagnot, Mark Barroca and Paul Lee.
“No, not yet,” he says when asked if he envision an early changeover. “Very rare naman yung mga katulad nina Benjie Paras at June Mar Fajardo na pag pasok e dominant na agad. The changing of the guards will happen but only in the next two or three years pa. But I guess it’s the right time for these young guys to start. Entering now and playing in the big league is a good move for them.”
Talk ‘N Text veteran guard Jimmy Alapag, 36, who recently begged off from consideration to the Gilas Pilipinas team competing in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in mid- September, could right away be in these young guns’ crosshairs.
“Maybe, but Jimmy’s are big shoes to fill and I don’t think he can easily be dislodged,” says Gregorio.
A record total of 95 applicants, led by Fil-Ams Stanley Pringle and Chris Banchero, have registered for the draft, with Philippine team pool member Kevin Alas beating the Aug. 13 deadline along with fellow Cadets Ronald Pascual and Matt Ganuelas.
“We’re looking forward to the draft,” says Gregorio. “We’re all excited about it, especially with the entry of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao.”
Gregorio says Alas’ decision to join the draft was a result of his consultation with his family, including his father, Alaska Aces assistant coach and former Adamson Falcon Louie Alas.
“Kami naman e nag ga-guide lang sa mga bata na kasama sa Cadets. In the end, decision din nila yon at nang kanilang pamilya.”
The same holds true, Gregorio says, with Garvo Lanete, who delayed his entry to the PBA for at least one more year.
“Tama rin yon dahil siguro nakita niya na puro guards ang papasok so naghintay muna siya,” says Gregorio. “Meantime, he’ll have a longer period to work on his game.”
Talk ‘N Text drafts eighth overall after San Miguel Beer and before Rain or Shine.
Of the coming 40th season, Gregorio says work is ongoing although everything remains under wraps.
“We’re now preparing hard for the Oct. 19 opening and we promise lots of surprises to welcome the new season,” he says. “Pero yan na lang muna.”
Pringle, who played for the Indonesia Warriors in the Asean Basketball League, is the consensus No. 1 pick, with Globalport holding the rights to the first choice.